Translator Todd Hasak-Lowy on Yaara Shehori's AQUARIUM: a conversation with Jessica Cohen

Writer, translator, and professor of creative writing Todd Hasak-Lowy discusses his new translation, Aquarium, originally published in Hebrew in 2016. Israeli novelist Yaara Shehori won the Bernstein Prize for the best original Hebrew-language work of fiction for Aquarium in 2017. Leading Hebrew-to-English translator Jessica Cohen will join Mr. Hasak-Lowy for a discussion about the novel, and the perils and joys of translation. This program is free and open to the public.  Register HERE. The purchase of Aquarium from The Book Stall helps keep our independent bookstore running and insures an array of fascinating programming to come. 

Ambitious, intelligent, and nuanced, Aquarium is a story that interrogates the limits of stories and the words we use to tell them, whether they are made of hand signs, speech sounds, or written letters. The emotional force of Yaara Shehori's novel turns on what remains unspoken: the fierce attachment of two sisters during childhood and the reverberating consequences of tearing them apart. --Siri Hustvedt, author of Memories of the Future

About the Book:  Sisters Lili and Dori Ackerman are deaf. Their parents--beautiful, despondent Anna; fearsome and admired Alex--are deaf, too. Alex, a scrap metal collector and sometime prophet, opposes any attempt to integrate with the hearing; to escape their destructive influence, the girls are educated at home. Deafness is no disability, their father says, but an alternative way of life, preferable by far to that of the strident, hypocritical hearing.

Living in a universe of their own creation, feared by and disdainful of the other children on their block, Lili and Dori grow up semi-feral. Lili writes down everything that happens--just the facts. And Dori, the reader, follows her older sister wherever she goes. United against a hostile and alien world, the girls and their parents watch the hearing like they would fish in an aquarium.

But when the hearing intrude and a devastating secret is revealed, the cracks that begin to form in the sisters' world will have consequences that span the rest of their lives. Separated from the family that ingrained in them a sense of uniqueness and alienation, Lili and Dori must relearn how to live, and how to tell their own stories.

Sly, surprising, and as fierce as its protagonists, Yaara Shehori's Aquarium is a stunning debut that interrogates the practice of storytelling--and storyhearing.

Todd Hasak-Lowy is an American writer, translator, and professor of creative writing and literature at the School of the Arts Institute of Chicago. He is the author of The Task of This Translator, a short-story collection; Captives, a novel; a narrative memoir for young adults, Somewhere There Is Still a Sun, cowritten with the Holocaust survivor Michael Gruenbaum; and several books for younger readers. Hasak-Lowy lives in Evanston, Illinois, with his wife and two daughters.

Jessica Cohen's first book-length translation was published in 2003, and she's worked with some of Israel’s finest writers, including David Grossman, Amos Oz, and Etgar Keret, among many others, as well as with prominent screenwriters such as Ari Folman and Ron Leshem. Her translations have been published in English by leading U.S. publishers.  Visit her website for more information. 

Author Yaara Shehori is an Israeli novelist and poet. She has been an editor of Hebrew literature at Keter Books since 2013. In 2015, Shehori was awarded the Prime Minister Levi Eshkol Creative Writing Prize for Writers and Poets and the Minister of Culture's Prize for Upcoming Writers. She holds a PhD in Hebrew literature from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and a fellowship from the University of Iowa International Writing Program. 

Event date: 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Event address: 

Online Crowdcast event!
Aquarium: A Novel Cover Image
By Yaara Shehori, Todd Hasak-Lowy (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780374105921
Availability: On Our Shelves Now--Subject to Availability
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 13th, 2021

A debut novel following two sisters, both deaf and raised in seclusion by deaf parents, and the shattering consequences that unfold when that isolation comes to an end.