The literary thriller can be reminiscent of the political candidate who tries to be all things to all voters, oscillating between radically disparate positions and never fully satisfying the target demographic of either pole. This is how I felt while reading The Liar. For the most part, the Israeli novelist Ayelet Gundar-Goshen writes sensitively of inner turmoil and loneliness, but she intermittently sabotages her own work with a made-for-Netflix plot ricochet or line of cheesy dialogue ... Gundar-Goshen handles her characters’ interior lives gracefully ... The prose can be evocative ... She’s also adept at family dynamics — enough so that I found myself wishing she had focused merely on relationships and hadn’t deployed a slew of contrivances (or else that she had written an unapologetic thriller that dispensed with any claims to plausibility ... Scenes related to the investigation and Nofar’s celebrity unspool formulaically. It doesn’t help that the characters sometimes think of TV shows as behavioral guides ... The dialogue can be tin-eared...Even less realistic are the teenagers’ slang and conduct ... Still, the writing here has enough psychological depth and lovely passages to sustain its misfires. And the ending, which suggests redemption for both the singer and Nofar, is surprisingly moving. I’ll watch the Netflix adaptation the day it streams.
Gundar-Goshen writes with a straightforward style punctuated by striking poetic observations ... The chapters are short, giving insight into the troubled state of several characters ... This moral ambiguity is so compelling and finely handled that readers will be both hoping for and dreading when the various truths come to light ... The Liar is a thoughtful, entertaining, wise and honest novel. Sondra Silverston's translation is light-handed and lovely.
This is a book about the many lies we tell ourselves and others, and rather than condemning liars outright, Gundar-Goshen is far more interested in the transgressive power that liars possess to fight inequality in an unjust world, and the perverse way in which lying can bring us love ... This book rings true in every line.
This slyly edgy second novel...explores the thin line between lying and storytelling, and considers whether lying may ever have positive consequences. [Gundar-Goshen] writes with detached affection for her misguided but essentially well-meaning characters, skipping nimbly among their points of view, and introducing new ones along the way. Both sardonic and touching, the novel raises questions of morality for which there are no easy answers. Its timely subject matter and intriguing, unpredictable plot are sure to prompt discussion among readers.
Lies take life in this excellent novel ... Though some characters fall to the wayside and leave the reader curious as to their purpose in the story, Nofar’s internal journey makes up for it. This tender and satisfying coming-of-age story leads readers to question how a split second can change lives.
The author unfurls her ironic fable—simultaneously timeless and contemporary—from a God’s-eye view, with captivating authority and in lush prose ... A psychological page-turner, rich in setting, character, and wisdom.