Gai Oni follows the first seven years of Gai Oni - a settlement in Galilee, precursor to the town of Rosh Pina - as seen by a pioneer woman.
Fania, a 16-year-old survivor of a pogram in the Ukraine, arrives in pre-state Israel with her old uncle, a deranged brother and an unwanted baby, the product of rape. On her arrival in Jaffa she meets Yehiel, a 26-year-old widower, father of two, one of the few courageous souls left in Gai Oni.
Severe drought and exhausting work have driven away most of the pioneers, leaving behind only a few tenacious families. Fania moves in with Yehiel and throws herself into the life of a peasant woman, trying to squeeze a living out of the stony ground despite hunger and disease. Dressed in Arab dress, she rides through the bandit-infested country and breaks into the male-dominated worlds of commerce and politics, even of defence. Eventually, Yehiel succumbs to malaria and exhaustion and Fania is left to continue the struggle without her partner.
Gai Oni is Shulamit Lapid fifth novel out of nine novels, five collections of short stories, three plays, a book of poetry and six books for children and youth. She has received the Prime Minister`s Prize for Literature (1987), the International Theater Institute Award (1988), the German Krimipreis (1996) and the Newman Prize.
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