An incendiary tale of sex work from a young literary provocateur.
by Maayan Eitan
Penguin Press, April 2022
(via Writers House)
LOVE is a fever dream of a novel about a young sex worker whose life blurs the boundaries between violence and intimacy, objectification and real love. Startlingly vulnerable and lyrically deft, Maayan Eitan’s debut follows Libby as she goes about her work in a nameless Israeli city, riding in cars, seeing clients, meeting and befriending other sex workers and pimps. In prose as crystalline as it is unflinching, Eitan brings us into the mind of her fierce protagonist, as Libby spins a series of fictions to tell herself, and others, in order to negotiate her life under the gaze of men. After long nights of slipping in and out of the beds of strangers, in a shocking moment of violence, she seizes control of her narrative and then labors to construct a life that resembles normalcy. But as she pursues love, it continually eludes her. She discovers that her past nights in cheap hotel rooms eerily resemble the more conventional life she’s trying to forge.
A literary sensation in Israel, Maayan Eitan’s debut set off a firestorm about the relationship between truth and fiction, and the experiences of women under the power of men. Compact and gemlike, this is a contemporary allegory of a young woman on the verge.
“Maayan Eitan is a pensive rebel seductress and a literary trickster. Love, her debut, is celebrated by various deans and kingmakers of Israeli letters as one of the new century’s most important books. Her prose-poem account of life as an underage whore is so emotionally persuasive, so transparently metaphorical, so startlingly concrete, so obviously not true, that it had everyone in Israel convinced it was straight-up autofiction.” —Nell Zink, author of Mislaid and The Wallcreeper
Maayan Eitan’s short fiction and essays have been published in The Kenyon Review, World Literature Today, and The Tel Aviv Review of Books, and her work appears regularly in Israeli literary magazines. She holds a master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Hebrew literature in Israel. LOVE is her first book. She lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.