The Pink Balloon is an attempt to wake people up, to show them they’re not who they think they are. The book does this by challenging our concept of identity through the story of a young woman and a pink balloon.
Born in Israel, I lived in South Africa as a child, so English is my native language. Later I spent a few years in New York doing my M.A.
Education: MA-TESOL, PHD-Comparative Literature. My thesis was on Metafiction in the Writings of Virginia Woolf and Marguerite Duras.
Employment: I worked as a journalist, translator and editor for a few years and then taught English at Tel Aviv University for almost twenty years. I left to write full time.
Publications: Three former novels have been published in Israel by small publishers.
The Pink Balloon is the result of a lengthy spiritual journey and is the first book I’ve written in English.
Orna Taub, Phone no. +972-53-334-6376
About the Book
The Pink Balloon
Fiction, 101,872 words
The Pink Balloon is an attempt to wake people up, to show them they’re not who they think they are. The book does this by challenging our concept of identity through the story of a young woman and a pink balloon. Despite its name, this is not a children’s book. The pink balloon is a meditation technique the protagonist learned as a child, and is the only constant in her life, helping her to navigate between her assumed identities, as she moves through different continents, cultures and religions. Forced by the events of her life to repeatedly construct a new identity, only to later deconstruct it, she finally realizes that she was never who she thought she was and is set free to be whoever and whatever she chooses to be. The book presents a fresh, positive outlook, offering hope in a post Corona world. To quote the protagonist: “Everyone needs a pink balloon.”
Pink Balloon Synopsis
The book is divided into 5 sections: Lily, Lila, Lia, Leela, Lily. These are all the different names of the same character, corresponding to the different identities she assumes. The first and last sections are told in the first person and the other three, lengthier ones, in the third.
“Everyone needs a pink balloon.”
The pink balloon is a meditation technique Lily’s father taught her as a child, and is the only constant in her life, helping her to navigate between her assumed identities and new names, as she moves to different continents, cultures, and religions.
Lily is born in Venice Beach, California to a Palestinian mother, Minna, and an Israeli father, David. When her parents separate, Minna and Lily go to live with her mother’s family in a conservative Palestinian refugee community, where she becomes Lila and is raised as a Muslim. After Minna dies, David takes her to Israel, where he has built himself a new life in an illegal settlement in the West Bank. Here, she becomes Lia and converts to Judaism.
After she discovers she is expected to get married—an arranged marriage if necessary—Lia runs away to India, the place where she feels her parents’ story, and her own, really began. She creates her own identity and calls herself Leela as she embarks on a journey of discovery, bent on finally finding out who she truly is. As she sheds her old identities to rebuild herself as Leela, the pink balloon takes on a life of its own, guiding her from place to place and from revelation to revelation.
Story behind The Pink Balloon
The Pink Balloon is the result of a long spiritual journey that actually began, without my realizing it, when I was a small child. I was born a seeker, constantly asking myself who I really was, why I was here, what was really going on. I was the child with the nagging feeling that things weren’t really the way they seemed, that there was something wrong with the picture.
Trying to fit in I got married, had 3 sons and got my PHD., only to discover, when I began to write, that I had become someone I didn’t identify with and didn’t even like. I barely recognized the uptight lecturer, her sensible clothes and hair tightly braided at the back of her neck. Uprooting myself and my kids, I built a new life. Now I was the brilliant bohemian artist, strangely clothed and hair running wild.
When my life was uprooted again and I realized I wasn’t really her either, that she was just an image I myself had created, I was really lost. All the old questions that had haunted me throughout my childhood came flooding back and I found myself reverting to all the old techniques that I had learned as a child. I had never meditated daily, but whenever times were tough, I would pull out the old relaxation methods I’d picked up at my mother’s yoga class and take myself off in my pink balloon.
Now I began to really study yoga and meditation. These brought me to Buddhism and Eastern psychology, all dealing with the issues of identity that had always been at the root of my quest. I began listening to New Age Speakers like Ekhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Adyashanti, going to retreats and even to a six week workshop in India.
3 previous books, all novels.
All my books are in a way a quest, a physical or metaphysical search for understanding.
Touch the Sun tells the story of two artists, one brilliant and wild, the other quiet and level headed. Their meeting starts a complex and entangled journey of discovery through religion and art, mythology and mysticism.
Night in Florentine is the story of two women, who are actually one. During the day, Michal is the yuppy successful journalist, writing for a women’s magazine. At night she becomes Lady O, searching the internet for excitement. When she sets out in the footsteps of a missing soldier, she finds herself on a different journey, delving down to her inner depths. It is a story of disillusionment and a search for a new, different way.
Butterfly Perfume was written in Hebrew but since I have translated it into English, I will write a little more about it, trying to summarize. I am also attaching the book so you can take a look, perhaps just at the opening chapters of each voice, so you can see what we did. I think you’ll like it. It has 3 strong female protagonists and offers a strong, optimistic message.
The book began when my partner and I began renovating an old decrepit house in Jaffa, following a legend, told to us by our foreman and wonderful friend, Mohammad Hijab, about his Grandmother's grandmother. The legend told of a young girl living in Nablus, two hundred years ago, who was taken to Jaffa, by the Governor of Jaffa, Mohammad Abu Nabut (Father of the cudgel). Aihsa's story could be seen as a heavily researched (and accurate) historical novel, but it is only part of the story. It also tells the story of the prophet Mohammad and his favorite wife, Aisha and is woven into the tales of two young woman living in today's Jaffa. The three tales intertwine, each adding, changing and portraying the other in a different light. They tell the story of three young women at the start of their adult lives. Three very different young women, with very different stories, that eventually become one story, perhaps even the same story.
It is also the story of Jaffa, one of the oldest cities in the world. It is told through the story of one house, through the ages, weaving in history, and a discussion of history, personal and communal. It is almost an ode to Jaffa, one of the most impossible and unpredictable places in the world. Situated in the midst of war and terror, its population of Jews, Moslems and Christians have created a special coexistence and harmony in which art and culture thrive.
It is a story of pain and strength and also a lot of beauty. It is a celebration of simple beauty, an attempt to return beauty and hope to art, from where we feel it has disappeared in the twentieth century. Virginia Woolf wrote of 'decorating the dungeon with flowers', but our literature has become a word game, celebrating the dungeon. Words are manipulated to create an empty beauty, a beauty so painful it leaves us numb and hopeless. We've seen the dungeon from every possible angle, but seen no flowers, remaining in Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness'. Butterfly Perfume is an attempt to bring back beauty and hope into a literary world that finds beauty only in destruction.
The book tells three stories and three choices.
Aisha is the story of acceptance.
Revital is the life cycle.
Nina is the butterfly – the moment of such intense beauty that makes
Revital begins the novel. She tells of her arrival in Jaffa and the culture shock even an Israeli, born and bread in Israel is bound to feel. She is a young, bright, somewhat flighty woman, just out of university, looking for herself and unsure of her future. Her story is of her year in Jaffa, the wonderful, colorful characters she meets, her new experiences and the changes they make on her.
Aisha is a well-researched historical novel, told in a simple beautiful voice. We meet Aisha in Nablus, next to the village well and accompany her to Jaffa, where she becomes the first wife of 'Abu Nabut', the man responsible for the massive reconstruction of war torn Jaffa, giving it the beauty we still see today. We read of her childhood in old Nablus and her new life in Jaffa. Real figures are incorporated into her tale, like the colorful figure of Lady Stanhope, a British adventurist, known as 'The Queen of the Desert', and Zenobia, a real queen, who ruled the area almost two thousand years ago.
Nina has only seven chapters, but her voice enters in mid-book. The reader has been prepared for her, but it is still a shock when her voice actually enters as part of the book's dialogue. She gives a totally new view to all we have read. Nina is built as a Greek tragedy, but ends up very differently. The opera "Madame Butterfly" resounds throughout Nina, but her choice is very different from the opera's and although her life has been tragic, she offers the hope and beauty of new creation. Instead of the chorus there voices, fictitious quotations from within the book and real quotations from known figures.
Reviewers have mentioned a lilting poetic voice running through my books. I personally feel that although my former books were all quests, while writing them, I was also on a quest, searching for some sort of understanding, without really knowing what I was looking for. The Pink Balloon comes from a different place, a place of much deeper understanding, and thereby offers a much clearer voice and message.
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