Memory Lapse

Four Postcapitalist Novellas


Shimon Adaf

Publisher Van Leer Institute Press & Pardes Publishing
Language Hebrew
Year of Publication 2023
Series Speculative Fiction

Under the leadership of Rabbi Yadin Za’afrani, the great yeshivas of Sura and Pumbedita are reconstituted as part of the revival of the Jewish communities throughout the Middle Eastern Union. Darya Shabazi, a young yeshiva student and the son of political operatives in the party that wrought the economic and civil change in the region, forgoes ordination to the rabbinate to care for his mother, who is experiencing severe memory lapses: Events from the past burst into her consciousness and are experienced as if they were happening in the present. While Darya is adjusting to his new way of life, he receives a summons to give an affidavit regarding a media interface he developed with an childhood friend. This trivial legal matter forces Darya to confront the tangle of his community’s assumptions and the incarnations of contemporary Jewish thought.

Memory Lapse is a sophisticated bildungsroman that explores the future of Jewish communality at a time of prosperity and comfort. Thus, it explores the relation between living conditions and spiritual development, which usually seems to be fed by duress and distress. Similarly, the novella examines the issue of the ownership of public knowledge and intellectual capital in an era of sharing of resources and means of production.

Collection: Four Postcapitalist Novellas >

The year is 2066. After a string of ecological disasters, on the one hand, and a technological acceleration that makes a substantial part of human labor redundant and heralds an era of material abundance, on the other hand, the Middle East realigns politically, socially, and economically, as do other regions of the world. The Banks of the Jordan, the area that includes Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and parts of Lebanon and Syria, is a district with an autonomous government, subordinate to the Council of the Middle Eastern Union. Every individual member is entitled to a universal salary and public housing in exchange for hours devoted to the public benefit.

These four postcapitalist novellas are the fruit of an initiative that grew out of a research group at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, led by Dr. Kfir Cohen Lustig. The plot of each of the novellas unfolds in a shared reality conceived and created by the four authors who participated in the group. Each novella is a complete work in itself, but reading the four novellas together broadens the picture of the world and the society described in each novella and reveals a network of connections between issues raised by each one of the four. Each novella is followed by an afterword by Dr. Kfir Cohen Lustig and Prof. Shimon Adaf.

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