Nathan Falk is an American Jew who leaves the relative comforts of New York City to serve in the IDF. Patrolling the streets of Gaza in the dead of night, playing a high-stakes off-duty game of Risk with his fellow soldiers, he lives each moment with an increasing awareness of the arbitrary boundary between life and death.
' "Matches" is the IDF code term for a soldier. Among the troops, it has come to mean someone who strikes, burns and dies.'
Nathan Falk is an American Jew who leaves the relative comforts of New York City to serve in the Israel Defence Force. But unlike most Jewish Americans who serve in Israel, Falk fights in the Gaza Strip, where soldiers would rather commit suicide that fall into the clutches of their enemies. Patrolling the streets of Gaza in the dead of night, playing a high-stakes off-duty game of Risk with his fellow soldiers, making passionate love to the wife of his best friend, Nathan Falk lives each moment with an increasing awareness of the arbitrary boundary between life and death.
Poet Alan Kaufman writes as only a former soldier could about life in the dark heart of one of the most controversial and unremitting conflicts in the world. In this short, brilliant novel he offers an intensely revealing portrait of the damage war does to the soul of a man.
A glorious and lyrical novel that resounds with all the magic, mystery, and complexity of the Middle East. Alan Kaufman has illuminated the emotional landscape, and absurd historical dilemma, of the Arab-Israeli military dispute like no other writer. Matches provides us with the same pleasure, pain, and moral compromise that we feel in reading The Red Badge of Courage and Heart of Darkness. A totally transformative reading experience. - Thane Rosenbaum, author of The Golems of Gotham and Second Hand Smoke
Great war writing like this comes along once every fifty years. Kaufman's Matches does for Israeli soldiers and the Middle East conflict what Norman Mailer did for G.I.s in The Naked and The Dead. Matches is not just terrific war fiction: it's a brilliant testament to the madness of war.
There's more passion here than you see in 20 other books combined, and he's got a lot to say about the enormous amount he's seen. This is a very crucial book to read at a very crucial time. - Dave Eggers