We’re excited to announce the release of our most recent Ploughshares Solo, “Dead Zone” by Tova Reich! In our Ploughshares Solos series, we publish longer stories and essays first in an affordable, digital format, and then in our annual Ploughshares Solos Omnibus Series. For more information and some great reading material, check out our previously published Solos, or the Ploughshares Solos Omnibus Volume 2.
About “Dead Zone”
Izzy Gam wants to be buried on the Mount of Olives, known as “the number one place for a Jew to be buried,” as the resurrection is supposed to begin there. Unfortunately, it turns out that his planned resting place is already occupied, as is every other place in Israel that his increasingly flustered family tries to put him. Beginning with the romance between the legless Izzy and the narrator’s great-grandmother Judi, and ending with the termination of the existence of Israel, acclaimed novelist Tova Reich takes us on a rollicking trip through the Holy Land and the search for an unspoiled place to rest.
“Dead Zone” is available on pshares.org for $1.99.
Here’s an excerpt from the Solo:
Just as my father stuck the spade into one of the mounds to fill it with earth, his cellphone rang, much to his embarrassment. Damn, he must have forgotten to turn it off. He stopped for a moment to rectify this lapse, and while doing so out of habit glanced at the screen to see who was calling. It read “Grandpa.” Somebody, probably his spiteful wife, my mother, must have gotten hold of Izzy’s cellphone and was using it to mortify him by calling at this most awkward of times, her sick idea of a joke. She knew exactly where he was and what was going on; the whole family, the entire congregation and community for God’s sake, were watching on their screens half a world away. He quickly switched off the phone—if only he could shut her off as easily, with a swift flick like this—then stabbed his shovel backward into the mound with striking force, heaped it with dirt and dumped it on the body. The phone rang again. Stepping away as others took turns with the spades to fill the grave, my father moved to the side, and concealing his mouth with the open parenthesis of one hand, answered the call.
“It’s me, the human cellphone, you can’t turn me off.” It was the unmistakable voice and accent of my great-grandfather Izzy Gam. “Get me out of here this minute. This grave is occupied territory. There’s already another dead body buried in here, right under me.”
About the Author
Tova Reich’s most recent novel is One Hundred Philistine Foreskins. She is also the author of the novels My Holocaust, The Jewish War, Master of the Return, and Mara. Her stories have appeared in the Atlantic, Harper’s, AGNI, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the National Magazine Award for Fiction, the Edward Lewis Wallant Book Award, as well as other prizes. She lives on the fringe of Washington, DC.