An experiment is under way in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: a woman, recently widowed, is starting a trial period in assisted living, mainly to placate her over-anxious son, whilst in Jerusalem her daughter Noga, a young harpist, returns from her job with a Dutch orchestra to look after the family apartment.
To enliven her stay, Noga’s brother finds work for her – playing roles as an extra in film, TV, and in the opera Carmen. The random roles Noga is thrust into resonate strangely with her own life which she begins to re-evaluate. Central to her past is the fact that she refused to have children, resulting in the break-up of her marriage. No-one in her family understood her motives for not wanting children and everyone has a different explanation for it. Now, a chance encounter with her former husband reveals his continuing powerful, love as well as a shocking deed she committed during their marriage.
But Noga is a free spirit neither tied to the past nor defined by it, and always keen to push boundaries. She lives for her music and is willing to go wherever it takes her. The three-month experiment proves as much of a test for her as for her mother and both are radically transformed by the end.
A.B. Yehoshua is as creative, humorous and provocative as ever in The Extra, exploring themes familiar to him of love, family relationships and artistic ambitions, set mainly in an ever-changing Jerusalem.