• Life under the Last Sky: History, Memory, and Trauma in Dudu Busi’s Noble Savage

    This essay addresses questions of responsibility and survival and the possibilities of life in a fictional, contemporary Israeli urban setting imbued with violence and its related memories from both the recent and pre-Israeli past. In Noble Savage, Mizrahi novelist Dudu Busi engages with the question of survival in a southern Tel Aviv slum. Eli, the protagonist, perceives life in the slum as an ongoing struggle for survival. Life is a maze that Eli navigates by defending himself and avoiding the omnipresent violence that exists both outside in the neighborhood and inside his own home. Utilizing theories of space, and addressing questions of trauma and testimony, the essay analyzes the violent relations that are formed between space, body, and subject. These violent relations, I argue, imprison the characters in a cycle of unethical and politically undesirable behavior. These questions of survival and life are conveyed beyond the literary setting and into the reality of the novel’s reception as a “threatening” or “dangerous” book. The essay presents Busi’s novel as the basis for a critical stance vis-à-vis the violent reality in Israeli slums. Busi’s stance does not absolve the residents of accountability for their violent acts; instead, it urges them to assume responsibility for these acts, which might put an end to the cycle of violence.