A few months ago, an article in the Jewish Review of Books, Why There Is No Jewish Narnia, generated a lot of discussion among two of my communities – the SF/Fantasy community and the Jewish community. I'm not going to revisit the discussions here – there were a lot of them, and an Internet search will yield all you need – but I did note that the article mentioned the existence of a recent Israeli fantasy series by Hagar Yanai. Yanai is currently in the middle of writing a trilogy of novels, called the Leviathan of Babylon trilogy about two Israeli teenagers who enter a parallel fantasy world. The first novel, The Leviathan of Babylon, won the 2007 Geffen Award for Best Original Hebrew Fantasy, and the second novel, The Water Between the Worlds, won the same award the next year.
The books sounded fascinating, but unfortunately, they haven't been translated into English and they haven't been published outside of Israel. But a good friend of ours was recently going home to Israel, and he brought me back copies of the books as a gift. I'm delighted and grateful, and desperate to read them, but of course there's that one little problem.
The books are in Hebrew, of course, and I can't read Hebrew well enough to understand what I'm reading. My hope is that gnomi will like nothing better than to sit with me as she reads and translates the novels aloud to me and the kids. :-)
Either that, or I've just been given even more motivation to learn modern Hebrew well enough to read and speak it. Now if only I could find the time....