“Virtuosic ... The lightness of Matalon’s tale belies its heft. In prose that is both abrupt and tender, she skewers the hydraulics of family and the insensitivities of those who think themselves exquisitely sensitive ... Matalon ... indicts us all.“
—The New York Times Book Review
A young bride shuts herself up in a bedroom on her wedding day, refusing to get married. In this moving and humorous look at contemporary Israel and the chaotic ups and downs of love everywhere, her family gathers outside the locked door, not knowing what to do. The bride's mother has lost a younger daughter in unclear circumstances. Her grandmother is hard of hearing, yet seems to understand her better than anyone. A male cousin who likes to wear women’s clothes and jewelry clings to his grandmother like a little boy. The family tries an array of unusual tactics to ensure the wedding goes ahead, including calling in a psychologist specializing in brides who change their mind and a ladder truck from the Palestinian Authority electrical company. The only communication they receive from behind the door are scribbled notes, one of them a cryptic poem about a prodigal daughter returning home. The harder they try to reach the defiant woman, the more the despairing groom is convinced her refusal should be respected. But what, exactly, ought to be respected? Is this merely a case of cold feet? A feminist statement? Or a mourning ritual for a lost sister? This provocative and highly entertaining novel lingers long after its final page.
"Matalon’s virtuosic novel opens in a standoff: A bride has barricaded herself in a room on her wedding day and will neither emerge nor explain ... The lightness of Matalon’s tale belies its heft. In prose that is both abrupt and tender, she skewers the hydraulics of family and the insensitivities of those who think themselves exquisitely sensitive ... Matalon ... indicts us all."
—The New York Times Book Review
"A moral act ... The language is straightforward, breezy, conversational. And Jessica Cohen’s translation makes it highly accessible ... All of it coheres. Confettied throughout the novel are Matalon’s well-chosen details ... Parallels to Beckett are unavoidable."
—The New York Review of Books
"Reminiscent of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but Jewish, and backwards ... Family secrets bubble to the surface in this deeply felt comedy."
"Matalon is a unique literary stylist whose pitch-perfect novel focuses on the spectacle of the big day ... Matalon nails how families relate to each other. Her scenes are cinematic and evocative ... A masterful rendering of a failed wedding day and the embedded failures that individuals, a family, and a culture accrue in the process of trying to manage their circumstances. As complex and chaotic as life."
—Foreword Reviews (Starred Review)
"Ronit Matalon was a giant of Israeli literature: not of the bombast of grand political statements, but rather a master of the private, the intimate, the ambivalent, the human. And the Bride Closed the Door invites us into a single revealing moment in a family's life, and we are right there in the room with them—or rather, right outside the door. It's funny, moving and deeply real."
—Dara Horn, author of Eternal Life
"The reader is gripped from the very first moment ... For readers who have never encountered Matalon, this very fast novel is an extremely accessible place to start, and an opportunity to begin to understand both Matalon’s literary stature and the complexities of contemporary Israel."
—Aviya Kushner, author of The Grammar of God in The Forward
"A riotous satire of wedding-day jitters. Look deeper and it can also stand as a parable of a country divided, and most of all as an absurdist situation comedy of contemporary Israeli family life ... Elusive yet powerful, by turns laugh-out-loud funny and tragically sad."
—The Jewish Week
"One could tout the graces of Matalon’s novella on a number of fronts. Its layered brand of humor—part slapstick, part wit—seeps in and out of darkness with bite, yielding a compact tragicomedy on love and loss."
"Refreshingly audacious and stirringly sophisticated, And the Bride Closed the Door presents the reader with a sharp-edged piece of social and feminist critique, hidden by a veil of wit and humor. Jessica Cohen's masterful translation further enhances the rare and intricate voice of Ronit Matalon, one of Israel's leading female authors, whose sudden passing shocked and saddened lovers of Hebrew literature worldwide."
—Ruby Namdar, author of The Ruined House
"A triumph, at once humorous and profound, richly imagined and deliciously grotesque ... This book is a marvel, a stunning display of Matalon’s virtuosity and an aching reminder of the tremendous void she left behind."
—Ayelet Tsabari, author of The Art of Leaving
“With seductive wit and light pathos, this brilliant novel makes the reader privy to the inner thoughts of a comically messy family. From there, bigger truths about personal life and the wider culture are exposed and explored.”
—Bethany Ball, author of What to Do About the Solomons
"Brimming with wise and compassionate commentary on a plethora of concerns: culturally-imposed gender roles, the role of public and private memory, and the dysfunctions that drive families apart ... And the Bride Closed the Door offers its readers all the more reason to mourn the loss of Matalon’s bold, uncompromising voice."
—Jewish Book Council
"We should be grateful that New Vessel Press has just brought out Jessica Cohen’s stunning translation of Matalon’s final work, an outrageously funny, perplexing and perhaps universal story ... Matalon manages to squeeze into this very brief story several of Israeli society’s easily recognized blemishes: conspicuous consumption run amok, out-of-control weddings (this one includes 500 guests), marital and in-law relations and more."
“A fable of the Israeli condition … Matalon is one of today’s best Israeli authors, one of the original, intriguing and unique voices now active here. Her writing—the themes, the characters, the way they are shaped—is distinct and unique."
—The Jerusalem Post
“A remarkable book. The deep inner structures of Israeli society, the existential tensions of being Israeli, and questions pertaining to the definition of individual identity are dealt with brilliantly and light-handedly.”
—The Brenner Prize Committee, 2017
“It remains unclear whether this novel is an allegory of hopelessness or a feminist manifesto. The narrative allows for many interpretations and perhaps most importantly it’s a comedy.”
—Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“Ronit Matalon, a major figure in Israeli literature who died in 2017, exposes the contradictions of her country.”