"The Drive represents a new landmark in Israeli fiction ... Israel’s own The Catcher in the Rye."
—The Los Angeles Review of Books
This searing novel tells the journey of a young Israeli soldier at the breaking point, unable to continue carrying out his military service, yet terrified of the consequences of leaving the army. As the soldier and his father embark on a lengthy drive to meet with a military psychiatrist, Yair Assulin penetrates the torn world of the hero, whose journey is not just that of a young man facing a crucial dilemma, but a tour of the soul and depths of Israeli society and of those everywhere who resist regimentation and violence. Weary of being forced to be part of a larger collective, can one fulfill a yearning for an existence free of politics, the news cycle and the imperative of perpetual battle-readiness—without risking the respect of those we love most? A compelling story of an urgent personal quest to reconcile duty, expectations and individual instinct.
"A beautifully written, formidable and moving tale about the boundaries between an individual and the collective."
—Shani Boianjiu, author of The People of Forever Are Not Afraid
"The Drive represents a new landmark in Israeli fiction ... Israel’s own The Catcher in the Rye, its narrator—like Holden Caulfield—a too-sensitive young man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Like Holden, he has a nose for phoniness and can see through the false bravado and cruelty of Israel’s military infrastructure. And, like Salinger’s novel, The Drive reveals the fault lines in a national narrative ... Assulin delivers powerfully.""Reading The Drive in these times ... feels nearly like a political act. The soldier’s mental conflict feels like our very own. Can we take a break from the news cycle, from being perpetually battle-ready, from speaking, writing, reacting and just spend a morning with a poem anymore? ... A novel that is really a manual for what it takes to be an individual in a country today."
—The Los Angeles Review of Books
"Poignant ... Assulin shines at depicting the soldier’s feelings of unease and the irreconcilable space between soldier and commander ... This work on the fragility of the human spirit is touching."
"Prize–winning debut ... exemplifies the individual’s battle against larger forces ... An unexpected story of resistance to military life, sobering and nuanced."
"The most remarkable part of this book may be in its exploration of how impossible the mentally healthy find it to participate in the journey of the mentally ill .... A superb debut from one of Israel’s younger prize-winning authors."
"An intense, compact work that presents a point of view on Israeli life that may be unfamiliar and quite surprising to non-Israelis ... The novel presents a version of the eternal conflict between the individual and society ... The Drive reveals facets of modern Israeli culture not usually known outside of Israel."
—Jewish Book Council
"Assulin is an assured and accomplished writer, and his short novel captures and holds our attention, roils our emotions, and challenges our comfortable assumptions. Above all, the author is fully aware he has created a character who is both troubled and troubling, and he makes no apology for it."
"The sort of soul-level struggling that makes great fiction possible. The translator, Jessica Cohen, is responsible for translations of Israeli literary giants with fans in America like David Grossman, Amos Oz and Etgar Keret, and one can only hope that her name on Assulin’s work means that we’ll be seeing more from him on our shelves soon."
—The Jewish Exponent
"A powerful, compelling and fascinating look inside the mind of a young man as he struggles to find his way in life, grasping to balance the expectations of his family, romantic partner, and country with his own troubled sense of who he is."
—Joseph LeDoux, author of Anxious and The Deep History of Ourselves
"The Drive serves up the mesmerizing story of a young Israeli torn between his own powerlessness and his lust to live. Suffocated by an army base he calls a 'kingdom of slaves,' he journeys to a mental health clinic on which he pins all his hopes of redemption. In the grip of Assulin's bracing novel, those hopes become ours."
—Benjamin Balint, author of Kafka's Last Trial
“Assulin’s novel is impressive in its breadth. His hero, like Joseph Heller’s Yossarian in Catch-22, is a young man struggling to make sense of the world and himself amid the surreal madness of war.”
—David Margulies, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Dinner With Friends
“The Drive is raw, poignant, tense, terse, and brutally honest. We see, hear and feel a soldier’s soul shredding until all he has left is the wish to die. This book shatters ideals and illusions about glorious and patriotic military service.”
—Edward Tick, author of War and the Soul and Warrior’s Return
"The Drive is a psychologically astute book—a good read concluding with an insightful, hilarious depiction of mental health professionals engineering a way for the protagonist to preserve his dignity while getting the help he badly needs."
—Thomas Ogden, psychoanalyst and author of The Parts Left Out
“A touching, gut-wrenching work. It is astounding and troubling at the same time.”
“Assulin lays bare the emotional distress of a person, any person, and the world’s inability to understand it except by means of mechanical categories from the field of psychiatry.”
—Benny Ziffer, Haaretz
“One can compare the story to the biblical journey of Abraham and Isaac to Mount Moriah, where God commanded that father bind and sacrifice his son.”
“Shattering … expressing a complicated mental situation, uncovering in a uniquely direct way painful truths about one of the most significant days in the lives of Israeli young people.”