In his final college semester, Ben awakens to read on his computer screen of the death of his classmate and childhood friend Avi. Avi’s death is sudden and senseless, killed by a drunk driver on his way back to his dorm. Here begins Ben’s story of coming to terms with loss and finding his way to adulthood.
In the fall of 2010, with his new degree in Moral Philosophy, Ben boards a plane to Israel to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Though Ben has never held a gun, before the next summer ends, he is a trained sharpshooter. His service takes him from the Negev Desert to the Occupied Territories and Gazan border, all while finding "home" at a southern kibbutz where he is adopted as a brother and son. From Providence, Rhode Island to California and at last to Israel where Ben joins Mahal, the special set of non-Israeli-born Jews who volunteer in the IDF, he finds family where never expected, a place of his own in the Israeli mosaic.
In a memoir that is both a coming-of-age story and epic ballad, Bastomski’s lyrically told story is intensely personal and ultimately universal.
“Elegant prose elevates even moments of absurdity… a lyrical and elegiac portrait of a young man coming-of-age as he learns the art of war.” — Publishers Weekly
"Elegiac passages mourn armed combat in a land replete with both beauty and history." — Library Journal
". . .this glimpse into this alternate universe is what makes the book most compelling. . . a chronicle of character, trust, patriotism, and unity. It exudes love of the land, of the Jewish state, of the Jewish people, and of humanity. All of that makes As Figs in Autumn a timeless celebration of Zionism and Israeliness at their best." — Jewish Journal
"Of my many trips to Israel, my travels through Ben Bastomski’s deeply personal memoir, As Figs in Autumn, took me to places that I have never visited Ba’aretz; accompanied by grief, service, authentic choice and the growth that they inevitably both offer and force." — Marra B. Gad, Award-winning author of The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl
"As Figs in Autumn is a loving portrait on the unique experiences of a chayal boded, a lone soldier without immediate family in Israel. Ben Bastomski depicts the struggles, the achievements, the moral ambiguities and the friendships that make one year in an endless war bearable, dare one say laudable. His focus is not on politics or ideology but on the real life of a lone soldier in a foreign land, yet one that is so much his own.” — Michael Berenbaum, distinguished professor of Jewish Studies, Director of Sigi Ziering Institute, American Jewish university, Los Angeles, CA