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Hamelet (The Cement)



Year 2066. Following a string of ecological disasters on the one hand, and technological acceleration that obviates much of human labor and heralds and era of material prosperity on the other, the Middle East, like other parts of the world, reorganizes politically, socially and economically. Jordan Banks, the territory including Israel, Palestine, Jordan and parts of Lebanon and Syria is an autonomic district subject to the MidEastUnion (MEU) council. Every resident in MEU is entitled to a universal salary and public housing in return to hours served in public interest.

            Ami Elalouf works for his father’s construction firm, established in Dimona. When his father was young, he discovered a unique cement mix, the Yabni el-Juba (“Magic Cement”), which enables a quick and proficient building. Thanks to him, and thank to the timing of the discovery, shortly before the establishment of the MEU, the family-owned firm flourished, and its services are in demand across the union. One sweltering summer day Ami is called urgently to Dimona. His father has fallen ill, and already inheritance intrigues are sizzling from the likes of Ami’s mother and his uncle Dekel. Ami is getting more and more convinced that he knows who is to blame for his father’s illness, and is deliberating how he should behave, what is his duty as a son, and his duty as a citizen in the new culture, where sharing and the greater good are supreme values.

            The novella Hamelet (The Cement) as hinted by its title, is an updated and exhilarating version of the famous quandary and revenge Shakespearean play, and Gavron uses it in order to ponder on human nature: to what extent can a society trying to suppress avarice and wealth, prevent the expressions of fundamental human characteristics, like greed and competitiveness? And if they are expressed, do they have a new configuration?

Hamelet (The Cement) is one of four novellas in “Postcap”, a postcapitalist literary endeavor born in a research group in the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem. The four novellas share the same backdrop, created by the four writers in the group.

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