Nearly two years have passed since I started this blog. In all that time, I’ve hardly mentioned my home town. Not here, anyway. I did write a bit about why I’m here in a guest post on Tania Hershman’s blog.

Why not? I’m not ashamed of it. On the contrary. I am proud of it. Of the whole country and this town in particular. So much has been accomplished, despite attempts to block all achievements – from without and within.

I haven’t written about it, because where I live is not one of the two themes of this blog: writing and social anxiety. And because it’s not a neutral place, to put it mildly. It’s a place that arouses emotions. In the present climate, those emotions are often hostile and I don’t want to deal with them. My main reasons for being here are personal, and I’m not equipped to take on the rest of the world.

One of the things I’m proud of is the biennial Jerusalem International Book Fair, which has been held since 1963. This year, I did something there I haven’t done before: I attended some author interviews. They were fascinating. I don’t know why I haven’t done that before. These are the ones I heard:

  • Aaron Appelfeld: an Israeli author who survived the Holocaust as a young boy, separated from his parents. What I took away from the interview is what literature is not. I can’t remember all the list, but I remember the last item: literature is not politics. That doesn’t mean you can’t write about politics, he said, but you can’t use it as an outlet for your political views.
  • Robert Cohen, from Canada. He spoke very well and held my interest all the time. As I listened to all these authors, I wondered whether I could ever become an author in modern times. I can see myself doing readings and presentations. But interviews?
  • Marina Nemat: a Canadian originally from Iran. Wow! That was some interview.  The audience was riveted by her story and the way she told it, starting at the end: certain people used strong language to try to dissuade her from attending the book fair, but she came anyway. She doesn’t do boycotts.
  • Guy-Philippe Goldstein, from France, discussed cyber warfare. Software put Iran’s nuclear programme back by five years. What if organisations with sinister motives could do this? I suppose we have to read his book, Babel Minute Zéro, to discover his prediction.
  • Oren Nahari, an expert in Japan, told us a lot about Japan and the Japanese, starting with his meeting with the emperor of Japan.
  • Dr Yohanan Grinshpon, told some stories from India – stories in which abstract ideas become physical objects and real objects and people can be made from thoughts. I found the stories fascinating, as a person and as a writer.
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