YZM: Fields of Exile has been called “a novel of ideas.” What do you think critics meant by this?
NG: Phyllis Chesler and Thane Rosenbaum called my book “a novel of ideas” because it is full of ideas and is, to some extent, driven by these. But only to some extent. Fields of Exile is not a dry treatise or a polemic. It is a novel, first and foremost. Chesler also wrote that Fields of Exile is so “gripping” that she could not put the book down. Others have said similar things. So I hope the term “novel of ideas” does not deter anyone from reading Fields of Exile.
YZM: Its protagonist, Judith, is torn between life in Israel and life in Canada; can you say more about her struggle?
NG: I don’t exactly see Judith as torn. For her there is no contest. She is a Zionist, so to her it is clear that the only place she will ever find spiritual or personal fulfillment is in Israel. For this reason, she disdains the alternative, which is living permanently in Canada (or, in her terms, in exile). That said, she does recognize the benefits and pleasures available to her in Canada that she doesn’t have in Israel, and she is able to enjoy these, but only as long as she thinks of her life in Canada as temporary.