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A colorfully illustrated round of the season in the garden of the best-selling novelist, memoirist, and champion putterer with a wheelbarrow
On the perimeter of Israel’s Jezreel Valley, with the Carmel mountains rising up in the west, Meir Shalev has a beloved garden, “neither neatly organized nor well kept,” as he cheerfully explains. Often covered in mud and scrapes, Shalev cultivates both nomadic plants and “house dwellers,” using his own quirky techniques. He extolls the virtues of the lemon tree, rescues a precious variety of purple snapdragon from the Jerusalem–Tel Aviv highway, and does battle with a saboteur mole rat. He even gives us his superior private recipe for curing olives.
Informed by Shalev’s literary sensibility, his sometime riotous humor, and his deep curiosity about the land, My Wild Garden abounds with appreciation for the joy of living, quite literally, on Earth. Our borrowed time on any particular patch of it is enhanced, the author reminds us, by our honest, respectful dealings with all manner of beings who inhabit it with us.
About the Author
One of Israel's most celebrated novelists, MEIR SHALEV was born in 1948 on Nahalal, Israel's first moshav. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages and his honors include the National Jewish Book Award and Israel's Brenner Prize for A Pigeon and a Boy.
JOANNA CHEN is the translator of Less Like a Dove and Frayed Light. She is a columnist for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
REFAELLA SHIR is an Israeli artist who lives in Montreal. She studied art in Israel, Canada, and the United States and has exhibited internationally. Her work can be viewed at refaellashir.com.
“Insightful, funny . . . Full of wisdom . . . You come away from the garden memoir with a clear sense of the author—his concerns, his surroundings, his loves—and a string of reverberating questions. Why, for example, as Shalev notes, are so few flowers mentioned in the Bible? What does that say about us as a people? And why do the poppies sway—even when the air is still? . . . I went to sleep every night with the smell of fresh figs and lemons and the sound of birdsong in my ears and the image of Shalev’s beloved black cat, Kramer, the hero of many of his Hebrew children’s stories, sleeping the day away beneath the buckthorn tree.” —Mitch Ginsburg, The Times of Israel
“A freewheeling horticultural homage . . . Shalev’s own garden serves as a point of departure for literary musings that bloom into a kind of ‘autobiography with flowers.’ . . . Witty prose expertly translated from the Hebrew by Joanna Chen and charmingly illustrated by Refaella Shir.” —Benjamin Balint, Tel Aviv Review of Books
“A nurturer of plants who is careful not to waste even a single seed and mourns the death of a tree, Shalev is a lyrical stylist and philosopher who writes with passion and humor. Drawings by Shir enhance the text.” —Sue O’Brien, Library Journal
“Charming musings on the ‘moments of bliss’ found in the garden . . . in which gardening teaches perspective and the rewards of hard work . . . Rests on solid botanical knowledge but is never heavy-handed.” —Kirkus Reviews