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Friday Fiction Recommendation: Nathan Englander’s “Free Fruit For Young Widows”

Nathan Englander’s “Free Fruit for Young Widows” is a remarkable investigation into the pitfalls and ambiguity of morality. Englander is a writer from West Hempstead, Long Island. He lived in Israel for five years in the 1990s and now resides in Brooklyn. In 2010, The New Yorker published his short story, “Free Fruit for Young Widows”, that is in part, a motif for the lives of Israeli citizens; how they reconcile, daily, with their personal ideas of morality in a state that is always at battle with its own. Englander challenges us to question why we treat each other the way that we do; that no act is black and white, and that there will always exist an infinite amount of gray matter that makes right and wrong nearly unattainable.

The story opens with the Israeli army and the Egyptian army adorned in the same French uniforms during the 1956 Sinai Campaign – two opponents dressed in identical soldier’s garb, who may appear to be allies  but are actually enemies in this battle over the Suez Canal. Throughout the story this idea of inhabiting contradicting elements at once is further examined through betrayal, murder, and forgiveness. Englander’s story is both unbelievable yet at the same time deeply humbling as it exposes the inherent flaws we were all made from.

Read the full story on New Yorker Magazine .