A merciless literary critic may seem like a demonic figure to a writer anxiously awaiting the ultimate critical review of his work. Such is the plight of Kalman Keren, a writer who lives in an apartment building in Tel Aviv. When Keren notices Professor Shatz coming up the stairs of his building he almost goes into shock. Shatz is the hated literary critic who is every writer's nightmare, and now he and his wife have moved into the apartment above Keren's!
Keren's last novel was highly acclaimed by other critics, yet Shatz wrote not a single word about it. This disregard was far worse for Keren than any possible criticism. Keren, familiar with French culture and busy translating François Rabelais' classics, Gargantua and Pantagruel, has a megalomaniac dream of writing the ultimate book, the masterpiece of all time. Only 22 pages have been written of the anticipated thousand page volume, but now that Shatz is disturbing Keren's nights with incessant banging on his typewriter, the author knows that he will no longer be able to write, and that he is doomed to suffer eternal writer's block.
At least his love life takes an exciting turn. Keren, divorced, falls in love with Naomi, Professor Shatz's lovely wife, who it turns out, does love Keren's work: Sweet revenge! Naomi leaves her abusive husband to join Keren, and the two set off to celebrate their love in the countryside.
Originally published as Ha-Gamal Ha-Meofef Ve- Dabeshet Ha-Zahav, this witty and intelligent satire of the writer-critic relationship is translated by Vivian Eden.