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The People of Forever are not Afraid Hardcover – 7 Feb 2013

3.2 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Hogarth (7 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781090092
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781090091
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 3 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 561,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"A searing novel" (Catherine Taylor Guardian)

"In a humorous and beguiling deadpan, Boianjiu conveys the fleeting, vanishing experience of hovering between adolescence and adulthood, at the same time as providing a rare portrait of young Israelis being minced through military service" (Robert Collins Sunday Times)

"More full of life than any young writer I’ve come across in a long time." (Nicole Krauss, author of THE HISTORY OF LOVE)

"Reads like it was written in bullets, tear gas, road flares and love. I demand another book from her, immediately." (Alexander Chee, author of EDINBURGH)

"The focus of Boianjiu’s book isn’t those horrible events: it is the tension that exists just outside the line of fire, the moment before a crisis erupts. Boianjiu’s best writing happens as the book progresses, when the teens let their minds wander into what they have experienced, and imagine an apocalyptic future for their country" (Sheera Frenkel The Times)

"A memorably bold novel... Somewhere between the sardonic humour of Etgar Keret and the epic storytelling of David Grossman, Boianjiu has created a brave, beautiful, political literature that is entirely her own" (Catherine Taylor Sunday Telegraph)

"Unique and piercing... Reading it feels like having your heart sawn in two." (Etgar Keret, author of SUDDENLY, A KNOCK ON THE DOOR)

"[Boianjiu’s] voice is distinct. It’s confident, raw, amusing — a lot like her women" (New York Times)

"In this Bildungsroman, life in the army initiates a metamorphosis from girl to woman…Boianjiu’s depiction of…the psyches of these young women is fascinating… The prose [reads] alternately like a nightmare and a dream, but this feverish indecision is what gives it its power" (Economist)

"The People of Forever Are Not Afraid is... carefully wrought, consciously structured, creatively imagined" (The New Republic)

"With its blend of brutal hilarity and heart-stopping anguish, this is a brilliant debut novel" (Boston Globe)

"Stunning…[a] beautifully rendered account of the absurdities and pathos inherent to everyday life in Israel" (Los Angeles Review of Books)

"Boianjiu’s searing debut…draws from the author’s own experiences to render the absurdities of life and love on the precipice of violence" (Vogue)

"In her riveting debut novel, 25-year-old Shani Boianjiu gives a rare insider glimpse at what it’s like to be a girl coming of age in the famously fierce Israeli Defense Forces" (Marie Claire)

"A dark, riveting window into the mind-state of Israel's younger generation, The People of Forever Are Not Afraid marks the arrival of a brilliant writer" (Wall Street Journal)

"This unflinching debut novel depicts with depth and acuity the disorientating effects of fear on young minds... The girls are often lost for words, but the author successfully finds a voice to express the dehumanising horror of warfare in this fragmented plot held together with a passionate, poetic eloquence" (Anita Sethi Observer)

"Remarkable…Part of this impressive book’s power is that it manages to re-create and rupture that numbness, war’s tedium and the damage it does to memory, intimacy, thought and affection. At a time when so many of America’s best writers seem to be in retreat from realism, championing a return to genre fiction (zombies and ghosts, comic-book characters and thrillers), Boianjiu’s bracing honesty is tonic. It’s a tribute to Boianjiu’s artistry and humanity that she portrays those on both sides of the barbed wire as loved and feared. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid is a fierce and beautiful portrait of the damage done by war" (The Washington Post)



Shani Bioanjiu has given us a valuable addition to our understanding of the Israel/Palestine conflict

" (New Internationalist)

Book Description

Searing first novel about three young women coming of age experiencing the 'absurdities of life and love on the precipice of violence' (Vogue)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am not sure what to make of this book. I bought it because years ago I spent quite a lot of time in Israel. Not being Jewish there was no question of my having to do any military training but I did have friends who had to. Then, I was impressed by their commitment to doing what they thought was right, their sensitivity and sense of morality. This book has left me wondering if what I thought happened years ago was not true, whether it was and the people are now very different, whether this book is a valid account or not. I was horrified at the callous brutality and cold acceptance of many of the situations. It's not a case of physical rape but mental rape. If these immature and young girls wielding guns are in 'charge' of the every day lives of those around them, what hope is there for them to be 'normal'? (Not that the situation in Israel is 'normal' in any way that I can understand).

I found the writing interesting, but not always easy to follow. However, it's bullet-like style did suit the subject. In places the story was disjointed and too erratic.

Please can someone who knows what it is like in the IDF now, please respond!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Imagine: you are a teenage girl and have just finished middleschool or highschool. In most western countries you go to college or university, or you start looking for a job. Not so in Israel. You are drafted to serve two years in the army. Unheard of in other countries as far as girls are concerned. Books about girls in the army seem non-existant. This book is unique. The story about the 3 girls who are conscripted is grim, but gripping. I was curious, picked up the book and started reading. At times I had to put it down to absorbe and reflect, then picked it up again since it is a compelling account. Non fiction seems to interact with fiction but the stories become real and are being honestly told. The scene keeps changing, from the dull and senseless duties to the tense situations and disturbing events, and back to memories from the past. You come to understand to what extend the IDF is part of everyday life in Israel and how everybody is affected. I find it hard to believe that politicians and senior officers are willing to expose 17- and 18-year girls (and boys) to situations like this and put them under this kind of pressure. Those in power and control let young people deal with the mess they are unable to solve themselves. It is obvious that the girls in the story are being affected for life if not traumatised. This book is a brave act of a young woman to give us this disturbingly vivid account of her life - and that of those serving with her - before, in and after her two years in the army. Bert
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By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Mar. 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a country's youth in a constant state of preparedness for war. The author, herself a veteran of Israel's compulsory military service, presents us with a fractured - and occasionally confusing - view of the folly and futility of conflict.

By showing what it is like for female school-leavers at age 18 to be conscripted as an accepted part of the `curriculum', Shani Boianjiu provides us with a uniquely feminine vantage point. This serves to make the reader all the more acutely aware of the sheer physicality of warfare and the lasting trauma to young minds after conscription: "...the problem was the future of the past. It existed outside our heads, too large."

Some press reviews have concentrated on the three main voices of the teenage girls, Yael, Lea and Avishag, and how they while away their time on guard-duty by discussing boys. This may convey the impression that this novel is war-zone chick-lit but that would be doing debut author, Shani Boianjiu, a grave disservice. The writing is very good, often disturbing, occasionally brilliant - with distant echoes of Catch-22.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Yael, Avishag and Lea are young Jewish women. They come from the same village near Lebanon, where they attended the same school and were in the same class. They are then conscripted into the Israeli Defence Force. This book describes their experiences, and how they were affected by them. The promise of such a book is considerable. It just does not deliver. Large parts read like a blog. Sentences drift nowhere. Tales are half-told. In some sections I could not work out what was happening. In one particular episode it seems they are subjected to prolonged sexual assault by their fellow soldiers, which they excuse because the soldiers are the future of Israel. Have I really understood that right? Certainly the girls reveal a crude and harsh outlook on sex and violence, which intertwine throughout. Lea appears to kidnap and torture an old Palestinian man, aided by her boyfriend. Other casual brutality towards Palestinians is managed in a matter of fact way. There is more than enough to suggest that the characters have little time for the rights of Palestinians. Is this what the author thinks herself? Or is she trying to show how corrupting the prolonged wars are on the Israeli state of mind? Are the three women really typical of Israeli Jewish girls? Is this what Israel is like?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It took me a few chapters to adjust to the style of writing - which is intended to capture the thoughts of teenage girls/young women - after that I was mesmerised. The book is a compelling story following trials and traumas faced by three teenage girls/young women as they finish school in an isolated border town and begin their compulsary army service. Although some of the non-army episodes might have stretched the bounds of believability, I understand that the description of the combined mundanity and traumas of army life are very authentic. Each girl is very difficult in charachter and faces different challenges beause of it. Some of the girls you will like and identify with and some you won't - and sometimes you will change your mind about each one. Overall, although I would probably give it 4.5 stars rather than 5 if that option were available, it is a compelling read and an authentic cultural poirtrait.
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