Moriel Rothman-Zecher is an Israeli-American novelist and poet. His writing has been published in The New York Times, The Paris Review’s “The Daily,” Haaretz, and elsewhere. In Moriel Rothman-Zecher ‘s debut novel, Sadness Is a White Bird (Washington Square Press), a young man prepares to serve in the Israeli army while also trying to reconcile his close relationship to two Palestinian siblings with his deeply ingrained loyalties to family and country.
The story begins in an Israeli military jail, where—four days after his nineteenth birthday—Jonathan stares up at the fluorescent lights of his cell and recalls the series of events that led him there. After moving back to Israel after several years in Pennsylvania, Jonathan is ready to fight to preserve and defend the Jewish state. But he is also conflicted about the possibility of having to monitor the occupied Palestinian territories, a concern that grows deeper when he meets Nimreen and Laith—the twin daughter and son of his mother’s friend. From that morning on, the three become inseparable: wandering the streets on weekends, sharing joints on the beach, trading snippets of poems, and intimate secrets. As his draft date approaches, Jonathan wrestles with what it means to be proud of your heritage, while also feeling love for those outside of your own family. And then that fateful day arrives, the one that lands Jonathan in prison and changes his relationship with the twins forever. Pulitzer Prize-winning Geraldine Brooks found Sadness Is a White Bird “Unflinching in its honesty, unyielding in its moral complexity.”