Summary and book reviews of The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen X
The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2019, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2020, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rachel Hullett
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About this Book

Book Summary

From the award-winning author of Waking Lions, a provocative novel about how one mistake can have a thousand consequences

Nofar is an average teenage girl---so average, in fact, that she's almost invisible. Serving customers ice cream all summer long, she is desperate for some kind of escape.

But one afternoon, a terrible lie slips from her tongue. And suddenly everyone wants to talk to her: the press, her schoolmates, and even the boy upstairs. He is the only one who knows the truth, and he is demanding a price for his silence.

Then Nofar meets Raymonde, an elderly immigrant whose best friend has just died. Raymonde keeps her friend alive the only way she knows how, by inhabiting her stories. But soon, Raymonde's lies take on a life of their own.

Written with propulsive energy, dark humor, and deep insight, The Liar reveals the far-reaching consequences of even our smallest choices, and explores the hidden corners of human nature to reveal the liar, and the truth-teller, in all of us.

1

THOUGH IT WAS the end of summer, the heat still waited outside front doors along with the morning newspaper, both boding ill. So sequestered in their air-conditioned homes were the people of the city that, when it came time for the seasons to change, they didn't feel the newly autumn-tinged air. And perhaps autumn might have come and gone unnoticed if the long sleeves suddenly appearing in shop windows hadn't announced its arrival.

Standing in front of one of those windows now was a young girl, her reflection looking back at her from the glass—a bit short, a bit freckled. The mannequins peering at her from behind the glass were tall and pretty, and perhaps that was why the girl walked away quickly. A flock of pigeons took flight above her with a surprised flapping of wings. The girl muttered an apology as she continued walking, and the pigeons, having already forgotten what had frightened them, returned to perch on a nearby bench. At the entrance to the bank, a line of people ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Liar works, despite its difficult, arguably antifeminist premise, because Gundar-Goshen sheds light on a dark part of human nature—people lie, and sometimes it's only for something as inconsequential as attention—while still reminding the reader that Nofar is a young, impressionable, imperfect girl. It's darker and more cynical than your average coming of age story, and rather lacking in a moral (we all know that Nofar was wrong to lie, so Gundar-Goshen mercifully does not belabor that point), but the intersection between Nofar's young adulthood and the adult consequences of her accusation is what makes this story so unforgettable...continued

Full Review (533 words).

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(Reviewed by Rachel Hullett).

Media Reviews

The Spectator
Liar offers a modern twist on the Cinderella story. Why settle for the attentions of a pimply Prince Charming when one can escape the ‘abyss of ordinariness’ with the adulation of the crowd? The plot proceeds at a brisk clip, as suspense builds as to whether Nofar will recant, be turned in or send an innocent man to jail. A few clunky plot devices are easily forgiven for the sheer charm of the storytelling, peppered with the author’s dry wit, which leaves nothing — not suicide, not even the Holocaust — sacred.

New York Times
Aside from the fact that female victims now have a (somewhat) stronger voice, The Liar seems as if it takes place decades ago, and the crime could almost as easily have been something else. Still, the writing here has enough psychological depth and lovely passages to sustain its misfires. And the ending, which suggests redemption for both the singer and Nofar, is surprisingly moving. I’ll watch the Netflix adaptation the day it streams.

The Guardian (UK)
Gundar-Goshen skillfully explores various dynamics of power—sexual, coercive, authoritative, familial—and portrays with great compassion and insight the humiliation, loneliness, and rage of society's outsiders. A perceptive and exquisitely observed novel, The Liar should win Gundar-Goshen a wide international readership.

Publishers Weekly
This tender and satisfying coming-of-age story leads readers to question how a split second can change lives.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The author unfurls her ironic fable—simultaneously timeless and contemporary—from a God's-eye view, with captivating authority and in lush prose...A psychological page-turner, rich in setting, character, and wisdom.

Booklist (starred review)
Slyly edgy...Gundar-Goshen explores the thin line between lying and story-telling...Both sardonic and touching, the novel raises questions of morality for which there are no easy answers. Its timely subject matter and intriguing, unpredictable plot are sure to prompt discussion among readers.

Author Blurb Joan Silber, National Book Critics Circle and PEN/Faulkner award-winning author of Improvement
This is a brilliant fable about the lure of lying and the lure of fame. The writing is wonderful—I was impressed and delighted at every turn. I came out feeling how much I'd learned from it—its astute way of being cynical and kindly and farsighted all at once.

Author Blurb Elinor Lipman, author of Good Riddance and The Inn at Lake Devine
Is it possible to marvel at/enjoy/admire/every page of a novel? I swear to a Yes, in the case of the joy-read that is Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's The Liar. It takes a rare skill to create characters who are all at once sympathetic and unforgivable—beautifully brought to life in writing that is both darkly funny and profound. What a talent! What a wonderful book.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Reality (and Rarity) of False Sexual Assault Allegations

The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen features a character, 17-year-old Nofar, who makes a false claim of attempted rape as payback against a man who verbally abuses her in an ice cream parlor. Though it's a compelling premise that leads down a horrifying road for all involved, this isn't the kind of book that should be read as an allegory for the #MeToo movement—on the contrary, it should be evaluated solely within its fictional context. Though false accusations of sexual assault do occur, Nofar's story is a far cry from the norm.

Assault statistics graphic demonstrating paucity of sexual assault convictions from RAINNIt's a commonly cited fact that the majority of sexual assaults go unreported; a study by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2002 claims that approximately 63 percent of sexual assaults are not ...

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