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Tamar Weiss-Gabbay

 

A writer, editor, and screenwriter, Tamar Weiss-Gabbay writes for both adults and children. Co-founder and editor of the leading Israeli literary journal HaMussach, Weiss-Gabbay has initiated a number of literary-social projects, including The Israeli Women Writers’ Forum, The Street Libraries in Jerusalem, Two: A Bilingual Project for Arabic and Hebrew Contemporary Literature, and others.


Her books Babylonian Mythology and the children's book Vainana Chooses a King, both published in 2003, are based on Sumerian and Akkadian myths. Weiss-Gabbay has also written two fiction books for adults, Zeppelin (Keter) and Blind Spot (Ha’Kibbutz Ha’Meuchad).

Her children's books Tali Under the Table (Kinneret Zmora, 2020) and Just an Empty Field (Kinneret Zmora, 2022) were both selections of the PJ Program, with 120,000 copies distributed in kindergartens and preschool facilities across Israel. The PJ Program published special limited editions of both books in Spanish and Portuguese.

 

Her novella The Weather Woman  received the prestigious Brenner Literary Prize, 2022.

 

Her picture book Tali Under Table was the Winner of the prestigious Dvora Omer award (2021), and her book The Thank You Tomatoes was sortlisted for the Jewish Children's Book Award (2022) 

Title: The Weather Woman

Novella

Publisher: Locus Books

Year: 2022

91 pp.

 

Translation rights: World

Audio visual rights: World

Translation: Partial English translation by Jessica Cohen

Italian rights sold (Giuntina)

 

The first part of the novella The Weather Woman was translated into English by Jessica Cohen, and published by Two Lines Press in the anthology Elemental in March 2021. It has since been developed into a TV script

 

An isolated town, perched on a cliff overlooking a canyon in the middle of a desert. Changing weather patterns and worsening floods mean imminent peril for the town and all its residents.

The novella follows the fate of three protagonists: a charismatic teacher, who stands bravely against the forces of nature; his daughter, the local weather woman, whose prognosis for the town’s survival is bleak and counsels abandonment; and her niece, slow and unambitious, sent to live in the town to attend a special education program, a final chance to set herself right.

 

Basking in her aunt’s status as the saviour of the town after predicting the deadly floods, the girl tries hard to make the best of the opportunity she’s been given. Beneath the surface though, charged emotions are threatening to pull the family apart. Seeking to impose his authority on the forces of nature, the father initiates construction of a giant pipeline to divert the flow of the next flood, into the canyon below.

 

The weather woman fears the arrogance of her father and his followers. Their belief, that they can bend nature to their will, can only end in hubris and loss, she fears. And so, the battle lines are drawn…

 

In The Weather Woman, Weiss-Gabbay personifies the all-too-real extreme manifestations of nature as characters in her fiction, channeling them into a complex and engaging relationship with her human heroes and villains. The Weather Woman is a sweeping, topical story, with unforgettable protagonists who will work their way into the reader’s heart and mind.

Critical Praise

 

Then came The Weather Woman—a clever and agile Israeli novella, embroidering an exemplary allegory about the complex relationship between man and nature. This is not a book about the climate crisis; the concept itself is not mentioned in the novel, the characters do not deal with global warming, and it is not even clear that in their fictional world there is awareness of the depth of the crisis and its far-reaching consequences. This is not an environmental manifesto, but simply excellent prose, in part because it deals with the environment without making abrasive statements about it. The Weather Woman is a powerful book in part because the climate-environmental issue is not pushed forward; the plot, and the characters are simply steeped in it and organically influenced by it…

Every sentence in the book is symbolic, denoting something else besides. Everything is loaded with meaning beyond the plot and the words themselves; everything says something about the power balance at the core of the book, which makes reading it a kind of layered and enigmatic game. Reading The Weather Woman requires vigilance, but is also able to generate pleasure and curiosity. Everything in this novella is tight and precise. There are no unnecessary words, no overflowing descriptions. Weiss Gabbay sculpts with Hebrew as if with damp clay, and also places in the story references to other works—to films, belles lettres, the Bible—some implicit and some direct. ‘The relationship between man and nature’ is a big, pretentious theme, but the novella itself is modest, and avoids preaching as is the way of good works of art. The change will take place through the heart... It evokes a sense of a one-time event. The Weatherwoman is a timeless and clever parable, one that deserves to become a significant landmark, in both the environmental and the cultural sense.

Haaretz, September 2022

 

This journey should begin with a travel warning: while small in size, The Weather Woman is powerful in its literary dimensions […] Its ninety pages present an engrossing, original, and concise plot that lingers on after its last page.

Gilit Chomsky, Makor Rishon

 

It’s a surprise and a pleasure to come across such a book, that wanders away from the magnet of Tel Aviv and all the bourgeoise troubles; with a plot that unfolds in a rock-carved canyon, rather than in a big shopping mall; with deers, eagles, and wild dogs supporting characters, set against mountains and changing seasons.

Maya Becker, Haaretz

 

Weiss-Gabbay’s writing maintains a sensible edge, even as it strives toward an optimistic and peaceful vision in its allusions to a fascinating intellectual-literary proposition: that changing our relationship with nature may bring with it a literary change—not only in the way we read our classics, but in the composition of all masterpieces of the future.

Keren Dotan, Israel Hayom

Tamar Weiss-Gabbay: Children

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