Searing in its beauty, devastating in its emotional power, and dazzling in its insights, Moriel Rothman-Zecher’s debut novel, Sadness Is a White Bird, is, I promise you, like nothing you’ve ever read ... His particular vision of today’s Israel, told through a coming-of-age story, will break your heart ... The novel sings out in the distinctive voices of Rothman-Zecher’s characters, in their almost palpable presence, and in their hopes and hesitations ... Rothman-Zecher shows great skill in portraying different neighborhoods, not only in terms of physical characteristics, but also through capturing the cultural and atmospheric dimensions ... I have only praise for this poetic, distressingly original book.
Rarely does one come across a debut novel as artistically accomplished, politically unsettling, and emotionally unflinching as Moriel Rothman-Zecher’s Sadness Is A White Bird ... richly empathic ... By turns humorous, joyful, melancholy, erotic, and tragic, the author’s luminous prose consistently delivers the crucial element of convincing detail ... Without imposing a false symmetry, Sadness memorably juxtaposes two family tragedies ... Rothman-Zecher is an accomplished poet and his lyricism often shines ... a triumph of the aesthetic and moral imagination, one that will likely leave its readers (one can only hope that many Israelis and Palestinians will be among them) feeling unsettled and perhaps utterly transformed.
In some ways every work of Israeli literature is about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but some of them, like Sadness is a White Bird, are trying to solve it. It’s quite a goal to set, for any piece of writing. Using love as a way to resolve the conflict, love for all bodies, radical love, queer love, interfaith and interracial, might be as effective a strategy as any ... While it’s an approach that risks fetishizing Nimreeen and Laith as liberating Others, and also as erotic objects, Sadness is a White Bird manages to avoid doing either of those things, maybe because it doesn’t entirely rely on the friendship, and more-than friendship, to carry all the burden.
...a lyric debut by a rising literary star ... The novel itself is written as a passionate letter to Laith from the imprisoned Jonathan, and is peppered with lyrics and phrases from notable Palestinian poets ... Informed by author Moriel Rothman-Zecher’s background in Arabic literature and social activism, both of which add passion and integrity to the story, Sadness Is a White Bird is part coming-of-age tale and part unblinking observation of a political situation that continues to defy solutions, treaties or agreements.