To infuse in the readerly experience some measure of the sensations and emotions navigated by the protagonist; to mirror life and art, so to speak, is an approach as tricky as it is effective. In her debut novella, Love, Maayan Eitan realizes this goal rather ably, painting a portrait of a young sex worker that itself contains the fluidity, disquiet, and uncertainty of its subject’s life ... Written with an honest, if ephemeral voice, and in a fairly straight ahead first-person, the book races along with its heroine ... Throughout, Eitan leaves the reader to fend for herself, eschewing exposition or backstory in order to prioritize scene, an immersive choice that furthers the thematic and narrative aims of her work ... Most of the plot is given over to Libby’s experiences and encounters, and the book holds little back in its most visceral scenes. Yet honesty is an important and successful feature of the novella—one that forces the reader to reckon with the true nature of her work and the lives of those engaged in it ... The book’s most successful technical-formal decision is the use of the rapid, loose, and free-flowing first-person narration ... The reader is able to experience her manner of living and surviving in an authentic, verisimilar fashion. In this way, not only character but story become real and immediate agents of effective fiction ... Movement and authenticity are the most arresting elements of Love ... Love stands as a moving, revealing book that manages to bring something of its uneasy, important fictive world into the real experience of reading it.
Mysterious and phantasmagorical ... Proceeding in short, self-contained sections, the deliberately opaque narrative is equally frustrating and enticing. The psychological mystery at the heart—why does the narrator do sex work?—is not particularly surprising or original, but Eitan is less interested in redemption than the possibilities for reflecting a fractured consciousness in prose ... Some of this is baffling, but it has its moments.
Feverish ... The novel, which could (and perhaps should) be devoured in a single sitting, plays with our longing for truth, our idea that a comprehensive story will tell us how we got to where we are ... Eitan’s style is more impressionistic: She lingers on sensory moments rather than explication or plot. The book was apparently a runaway success in Israel, where the story is set, and it’s easy to see why. The prose has a livid energy, and the storytelling is as brutal as it is relentless ... Just as the reader most craves concrete detail, a solid sense of whatever might be happening, Eitan’s focus grows even fuzzier. That might be the book’s only flaw—and it might not even be a flaw. Intensely vivid, lyrical, and raw, Eitan’s debut is as disturbing as it is moving.