‘Tikkun’ by Ayelet Tsabari

Set in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv during the second Intifada, ‘Tikkun’ is the story of a chance meeting of old lovers, and their attempts to make amends for their past. The title refers to ‘the kabbalistic idea of repairing past mistakes in order to achieve balance in the world’. When Lior encounters Natalie in a Jerusalem coffee shop, he’s thirty-five and drifting through life. In the years since Natalie broke his heart ‘and stomped it with both feet’, she’s become Orthodox and married a man who can’t provide her with children. The conversation is awkward and full of old regrets and they part suddenly. Only when the café is blown up by a suicide bomber later in the day are they forced to make amends for the past and provision for the future – in Lior’s case, faith, in Natalie’s, a child. Full of sparkling imagery evoking two cities – one ‘steeped in its own juices, smelling of ripe garbage and swathed in dust and sand’, another ‘lush with olive and cypress trees’ – the story is a profound investigation into chance, love, belief and everything that gives life meaning.  

Published as a Kindle standalone by HarperCollins, 2013 and collected in The Best Place on Earth, Harper Collins, 2013