Elisha Porat's Episode
Bio: Elisha Porat, the 1996 winner of Israel's Prime Minister's Prize for Literature, has published seventeen volumes of fiction and poetry in Hebrew since 1973. Elisha Porat was born in 1938 to a pioneer family in Palestine-Eretz Yisrael. Today, Porat still makes his home near the original tent erected by his parents back in the early 1930s. In 1956, Porat was drafted into the IDF and has fought in three wars. As a lifelong member of his kibbutz, Porat has worked for many years as a farmer. Besides writing, his current endeavors include editorial duties for several literary journals. His translated stories and poems have found their way into print worldwide.
Episode, by award-winning author, Elisha Porat, is an intriguing book for a myriad of reasons. First, Episode's presentation is a unique one. It is described as a work of fiction, but this work of fiction is based on the true story of Arieh Lahola, an idealistic, cerebral filmmaker. Secondly, the style of the book is an arresting one. From page one, Episode pulls the reader in by the opening, a real-life account of the author searching through his father's works, sorting through the translations his father did of Canadian humorist, Stephen Leacock. From there, the story switches to the tale of Arieh Lahola, the novel's protagonist, and then takes us on this journey that weaves from the author's own personal search to Lahola's artistic exploits.
This style is what makes the novel work so well. Episode is a book that constantly engages the reader's mind: how much of what Porat details about Lahola's life is biographical? How much of Lahola's life is his own, and how much are these insights really that of the author's? When Porat describes Lahola's exploits and intellectual wranglings, how many of these are related to Porat's own personal thought-life in his own quest to find out more about his late father?
Episode is not a book that can be treated lightly, because it is a book that demands intelligence from its readers. Its intellectual banter and searching questions challenge the reader to seek exactly what it is that Mr. Porat is telling us in this account of a real life subject woven within a fictional tale.
The scenes change often, which work in favor of this novel. One never knows, from chapter to chapter, where Lahola will end up next. It is this element that makes the book a page-turner, as well as Mr. Porat's knack for telling captivating tales. Indeed, the reading of this novel is much like sitting at the feet of a legendary story teller, torn between asking impatiently, "What comes next?," and keeping silent to listen intently so that not a drop of the account is missed.
Elisha Porat, author of The Messiah of LaGuardia, knows how to tell a story, and with Episode, he surely does not disappoint.
(Episode by Elisha Porat. Translated from the Hebrew by Alan Sacks. Y&H Publishers, Ein Hahoresh, Israel. 2006. Price unavailable. Contact author at www.artvilla.com/porat/.)