The One Facing Us: A Novel

December 4, 2020
The One Facing Us: A Novel

A richly colored narrative of a flamboyant Jewish-Egyptianfamily and its dispersal across three continents, from Israel'smost original new novelist.Esther, seventeen years old, wild and rebellious, is sent fromIsrael to Cameroon to stay with her hardheaded Uncle Sicourelle,who is charged with straightening her out. But Esther resists heruncle's plans for her future—which include marriage to a cousin—andin the privileged indolence of postcolonial Africa, she looks tothe past instead. Using sepia portraits and scraps of letters,Esther pieces together the history of her family, a once-grandEgyptian-Jewish clan, and its displacement from Cairo in the 1950sto Israel, Africa, and New York.As the worn photographs yield their secrets, Esther uncovers arich tale of wives and ex-wives; revolving mistresses and crushingmarriages; desperate intrigues and disappointments; poignantcontrasts between the living past and the dead present. Insensuous, inventive prose, Matalon penetrates the mysteries ofcultural exile and family life to produce a first novel that ismature, authentic, and finely polished.