Israeli writers’ trophy leads to ‘emptiness of the day after’


  • Ralf Bönt writes from Germany that, along with German authorities, he has been maneuvering toward a possible May 09 event in Berlin also involving teams from Iran and the United States. Iran has started building a team, the United States is fighting dispersion and the full diaries of potential competitors such as expatriate Bosnian author Aleksandar Hemon. At least Hemon, as of 2001, seems to privilege football over a traditional writer’s life as he tells English novelist Zadie Smith (“On the Road: American Writers and Their Hair,” Neal Pollack’s Timothy McSweeney’s Festival of Literature, Theater, and Music):
    Can I still play football three times a week? You look at me with your monk’s face, full of an infinite pity, yes, but without understanding, loosened from the realities of this life like a boat that has slipped its rig and floats in the bay. Because you know the truth as I know it. The aesthetic, political, journalistic, academic opportunities afforded a writer in these United States of America—all of them are sadly incompatible with playing a game of football, three times a week.
  • Nir Baram, Israel’s first goal-scorer in the tournament, writes about the experience (“When was I ever so happy?” he asks) in Ha’aretz (“Word Association Football,” Dec 21):
    During the three days of the Writers’ League tournament we created a world in which there was nothing other than the game: no commitments, no disturbances, no world. We cursed, broke legs (that is, the English broke the Germans’ legs and vice versa), swore to victory and glory; a German player even cursed a referee and got the red card. Suddenly we discovered a window onto the world of childhood where all complexity is eliminated: There is us and there is them, there is winning and there is losing.

An Israeli TV report on one of Sofrim Golim’s training sessions opens with a poetry reading from Eli Eliahu and continues with pitchside interviews with Eliahu, Baram, Gavron, Yehezkel Nafshy and Yali Sobol. A friend of Gavron’s claims that the team has garnered more attention than the World Cup … or war. (3:36)

Israel roster

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