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My Jerusalem Post Interview: Gila Green

 Thank you to journalist, Atara Beck, for this interview. The magazine (print) version is longer and includes a photo spread. I'll post the PDF. For now, here is the online version of the interview with a link to the full profile.

With a Good Eye, the title of Canadian-Israeli author Gila Green's novel, alludes to a good luck charm the protagonist wears to ward off the "evil eye." However, when reading Green's fiction, it becomes evident that the author indeed has a very good eye when it comes to analyzing human behavior.

A coming-of-age thriller, With a Good Eye is Green's most recently published novel. She is also an editor and author of short stories and nonfiction and teaches creative writing and English as a foreign language.

In the following interview with the Magazine, Green discusses some of her literary works and shares her thoughts on topics that she writes about, ranging from family dysfunction and antisemitism to Israeli society and politics.

Your most recent novel, 'With a Good Eye' [2024], centers on a 19-year-old girl with a Yemenite-Jewish father and an Ashkenazi mother, living in Ottawa. You, too, are the daughter of a Yemenite-Jewish father and an Ashkenazi mother, and you're originally from Ottawa. Is that the extent of the similarities between you and these characters?

In With a Good Eye, there are other parallels to my own life. For instance, the protagonist's mother is a stage actress, mirroring my own mother's career. From a young age, she toured Canada, earning accolades and scholarships. The plays featured in the novel are ones I grew up hearing about, as my mother recounted her experiences of acting them onstage. I had to grow up with a mother who never recovered from the future she'd envisioned for herself – the beauty and talent she was celebrated for in her youth – that becoming a mother stole from her. Children were not meant to be part of the performance. As the youngest child, I felt this intensely. Left to fester, resentment and bitterness only run deeper over the years.

In addition, though I am not a psychologist or therapist, I don't need anyone to tell me that, like the character in the novel, my father suffered from PTSD as a war veteran. He was a 12-year-old living in Jerusalem during the 1948 War of Independence, a paratrooper in 1956, and served in a tank battalion in 1967 – all of this aside from years of reserve duty. It would take me decades to realize this – because children take whatever environment they are placed in and deem it 'normal.' But war has never left my father to this day, and it was infused in every aspect of how he related to me on the most day-to-day, mundane level, such as lacing my shoes in grade school so that they would open in the fastest way if I stepped on a land mine. The fragments of war that infused him led to social isolation and distrust, mood swings, and episodes of rage.

The two war memories in With a Good Eye are authentic memories. Eighteen years ago, when he was 70, I conducted in-depth interviews with him, which I translated from Hebrew. I changed names for privacy.

'With a Good Eye' and your forthcoming novel, 'The Inheritance,' an adult psychological thriller set for release in 2025, both center on a young woman with dysfunctional parents and an older brother. Why did you maintain that same family structure? What inspired you to write about these types of families?

Dysfunction exists within every family unit, but the degree varies, prompting us to categorize them as, for example, 'normal,' 'high/low functioning,' or 'pathological.' Today, these labels are commonly discussed across social media platforms and in popular culture. I grew up with TV shows that sold the 'perfect' family façade. I always felt a lack of genuineness to these shows. Loving and happy families are not exempt from struggles with addiction or mental illness. I wanted to write more real characters and constellations. This theme of family dysfunction holds universal significance and continues to intrigue me.

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Monday, 17 June 2024

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