Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

Septuagenarians behaving badly: Stockholm, by Noa Yedlin, reviewed

Four elderly people conspire, for different reasons, to keep the death of their friend a secret until he’s safely awarded the expected Nobel Prize for Economics

Noa Yedlin. [Iris Nesher]

My grandmother wore a bikini long after she’d turned 60. As a teenager, I couldn’t think of anything more embarrassing than to be seen with her on the beach. When the day came, on an inescapable family holiday, I begged her to reconsider. ‘I’ve never understood why they say the body betrays you,’ she replied. ‘The body is simply doing what it’s supposed to. It’s the soul that refuses to do its part in the deal.’

I remembered this reading Stockholm, a delightful dark comedy by the Israeli author Noa Yedlin about four elderly people conspiring to conceal the sudden death of their friend, the renowned economist Avishai Har-Nof, so as to secure his award of a Nobel prize. At first it seems that the man’s heart has betrayed him, but we soon come to realise that his friends are just as deceiving. Though they declare Avishai’s memory to be the reason for their plan, different motivations are gradually revealed.

Zohara, who has been Avishai’s part-time lover for nearly 20 years, hopes to get a share of the prize money by claiming to be his common-law wife. While the group do their best to hide their friend’s death until the Nobel announcement, Zohara sets about rearranging his bachelor apartment to support her cause. Yehuda, Avishai’s closest friend, reckons that an endorsement from a Nobel prize-winner will significantly help his forthcoming book. Nili, a grandmother, and the group’s outsider for more than two decades, senses an opportunity to finally become a fully appreciated member through her key role as a medic. Amos, who was supposed to celebrate his birthday the weekend of Avishai’s death, is ultimately using the scheme to examine his relationship with his wife.

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