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The Drive
Cover of The Drive
The Drive
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This acclaimed debut novel takes readers inside the mind of a young and deeply conflicted Israeli soldier: "Israel's own The Catcher in the Rye"(The Los Angeles Review of Books).
The Drive follows the emotional and psychological journey of a young Israeli soldier who is unable to carry out his military service yet terrified of the consequences of leaving the army. As the unnamed soldier and his father drive along the Coastal Highway to meet with a military psychiatrist, Yair Assulin offers a penetrating view of Israeli society, a young man in crisis, and the universal urge to resist regimentation and violence.
Weary of being forced to join a larger collective, the soldier yearns for an existence free of politics, the news cycle, and perpetual battle-readiness. But to seek such a life would mean risking the respect of those he loves most. The Drive is a compelling story of an urgent personal quest to reconcile duty, expectations and individual instinct.

This acclaimed debut novel takes readers inside the mind of a young and deeply conflicted Israeli soldier: "Israel's own The Catcher in the Rye"(The Los Angeles Review of Books).
The Drive follows the emotional and psychological journey of a young Israeli soldier who is unable to carry out his military service yet terrified of the consequences of leaving the army. As the unnamed soldier and his father drive along the Coastal Highway to meet with a military psychiatrist, Yair Assulin offers a penetrating view of Israeli society, a young man in crisis, and the universal urge to resist regimentation and violence.
Weary of being forced to join a larger collective, the soldier yearns for an existence free of politics, the news cycle, and perpetual battle-readiness. But to seek such a life would mean risking the respect of those he loves most. The Drive is a compelling story of an urgent personal quest to reconcile duty, expectations and individual instinct.

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About the Author-
  • Yair Assulin, born in 1986, studied philosophy and history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The Drive is the first of two novels he has written and for which he won Israel's Ministry of Culture Prize and the Sapir Prize for debut fiction. He has been awarded the Prime Minister's Prize for authors, writes a weekly column in the newspaper Haaretz and has been a visiting lecturer in Jewish studies at Yale.
    Jessica Cohen shared the 2017 Man Booker International Prize with author David Grossman for her translation of A Horse Walks into a Bar. She has translated works by Amos Oz, Etgar Keret, Dorit Rabinyan, Ronit Matalon and Nir Baram.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 16, 2020
    Assulin’s poignant if flawed debut follows an Israeli soldier’s struggles to deal with his “soul-crushing” time in the Israel Defense Forces. The unnamed soldier and his father drive from Haifa up the Coastal Highway for an appointment with the Mental Health Officer. As they travel, the soldier reflects on the circumstances that have led him to this point. Having been assigned to intelligence, the soldier hasn’t seen combat, but his reaction to the environment of the base causes him to feel like he is suffocating, and to contemplate hurting himself. He considers throwing himself in front of a vehicle or asking a friend to smash his hand in a car door, so he can have a long period of sick leave. While on base, the soldier finds comfort from reading the Psalms and regularly visits the synagogue, but his pain persists and he fails to articulate its causes to his superiors. While the slim, sketchy narrative suffers from a lack of details, Assulin shines at depicting the soldier’s feelings of unease and the irreconcilable space between soldier and commander (“the conversation evolved into a conversation between two deaf people”). This work on the fragility of the human spirit is touching, but it’s no Catch-22.

  • Library Journal

    April 1, 2020

    DEBUT As Roland Barthes is here quoted as saying, "It is my political right to be a subject which I must protect," a point taken up boldly by Israeli novelist Assulin in this Sapir and Ministry of Culture Prize-winning debut. The story opens with the narrator declaring to his chagrined if supportive parents that he finds the regimentation and reductivism of military life unbearable and will not return to service; they're now driving to the mental health offices at Tel Hashomer Hospital to arrange for his release from his duties. As the narrator unfolds his distress, readers are left wondering whether he is unduly weak-kneed--he admits offhandedly to giving up frequently on school projects he's rushed to embrace--or a sensitive soul unable to fit in. Either way, his story exemplifies the individual's battle against larger forces, and we learn to appreciate his pain. VERDICT An unexpected story of resistance to military life, sobering and nuanced.

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Drive
Yair Assulin
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