In Girl Soldier (“La Soldada”), Paulina Tuchschneider lends her voice to the tragicomic (anti)heroine to give an account – with an astonishing frankness in which irony, humour, the scatological and the sordid are interwoven – of her traumatic time in the Israeli army while doing her military service, compulsory for Israeli men and women.
In the background, the dull rumble of the 2006 Lebanon conflict, in which Israel fought against Hezbollah, its declared enemy. In the foreground, an undeclared enemy, and therefore more insidious and lethal, less recognisable because it comes from its own side. A friendly fire, in short, that is transfigured by the excesses of superiors and the outrages of equals, with the consequent and incessant anxiety attacks of the protagonist, exacerbated by the tedium of the routines, the guards and the stenches of all kinds: from the perspiration in the dormitories to the fried food during the kitchen shifts. But in the midst of this oppressive and hostile environment in which humiliation and scorn, in all its possible forms, are commonplace, the worst degradation is the lack of intimacy, and ultimately the suppression of individuality. In Girl Soldier, an irreverent, anti-war book, devoid of any patriotic glorification, Tuchschneider addresses the question of the mental health of those over whom the threat of imminent war continually looms. A novel approach that has earned the author critical acclaim in Israel.