In Pain (Other Press) gifted writer Zeruya Shalev explores human pain amid heightened emotional awareness as the protagonist Iris finds herself in a second-chance love affair in middle age.
The story begins with Iris visiting a pain management clinic on the 10th anniversary of a suicide bomber terrorist attack in Jerusalem in which she was wounded. Her physical pain from the attack has returned and she is seeking relief.
Coincidentally, the prominent pain management physician who treats her, Eitan, was her first love and had abruptly ended their relationship nearly 30 years earlier, when they were 17 years old.
Already emotionally scarred from the loss of her father at age 4, young Iris had suffered a serious mental breakdown after Eitan rejected her. She did not speak, eat, or leave her bed for weeks.
In their first clinic encounter, Eitan pretends not to recognize Iris because she is accompanied by her husband. When Iris returns to the clinic alone to contact him, he asks her to wait for him in another room: