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A Tale of Love and Darknessby Amos Oz
2005 Koret Jewish Book Award for Biography, Autobiography and Literary Studies
Synopses & Reviews
Tragic, comic, and utterly honest, this extraordinary memoir is at once a great family saga and a magical self-portrait of a writer who witnessed the birth of a nation and lived through its turbulent history.
It is the story of a boy growing up in the war-torn Jerusalem of the forties and fifties, in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives speaking nearly as many. His mother and father, both wonderful people, were ill-suited to each other. When Oz was twelve and a half years old, his mother committed suicide, a tragedy that was to change his life. He leaves the constraints of the family and the community of dreamers, scholars, and failed businessmen and joins a kibbutz, changes his name, marries, has children, and finally becomes a writer as well as an active participant in the political life of Israel.
A story of clashing cultures and lives, of suffering and perseverance, of love and darkness.
"This memoir/family history brims over with riches: metaphors and poetry, drama and comedy, failure and success, unhappy marriages and a wealth of idiosyncratic characters. Some are lions of the Zionist movement — David Ben-Gurion (before whom a young Oz made a terrifying command appearance), novelist S.Y. Agnon, poet Saul Tchernikhovsky — others just neighbors and family friends, all painted lovingly and with humor. Though set mostly during the author's childhood in Jerusalem of the 1940s and '50s, the tale is epic in scope, following his ancestors back to Odessa and to Rovno in 19th-century Ukraine, and describing the anti-Semitism and Zionist passions that drove them with their families to Palestine in the early 1930s. In a rough, dusty, lower-middle-class suburb of Jerusalem, both of Oz's parents found mainly disappointment: his father, a scholar, failed to attain the academic distinction of his uncle, the noted historian Joseph Klausner. Oz's beautiful, tender mother, after a long depresson, committed suicide when Oz (born in 1939) was 12. By the age of 14, Oz was ready to flee his book-crammed, dreary, claustrophobic flat for the freedom and outdoor life of Kibbutz Hulda. Oz's personal trajectory is set against the background of an embattled Palestine during WWII, the jubilation after the U.N. vote to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state, the violence and deprivations of Israel's war of independence and the months-long Arab siege of Jerusalem. This is a powerful, nimbly constructed saga of a man, a family and a nation forged in the crucible of a difficult, painful history." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"It is impossible to give a full account of this book's riches. Oz has allowed his autobiography to flow along a rocky course, with numerous starts and various endings. Wisely, he does not impose the restrictive method ordered by another of Wonderland's creatures: 'Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end, then stop.' Oz knows that every autobiography is circular and that, even though the writer begins telling his story at the moment when the book must end, the points of entry are legion." Alberto Manguel, The Washington Post
"[An] indelible memoir....[T]his Amos now sees his parents as if they were his children." John Leonard, The New York Times Book Review
"[A] memoir full of family wisdom, history, and culture....As much as this distinguished book details the lives of the Oz family, it also captures the history of Israel." Library Journal
"A moving, emotionally charged memoir of the renowned author's youth in a newly created Israel." Kirkus Reviews
"Like his fiction, it's full of humour and lovely writing....[T]he main story [is] of Amos and his parents. And here, though humour still touches everything, the darkness of the title prevails....A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS is an important book for students of Amos Oz, and a fascinating one in general." Carole Angier, Literary Review
A provocative new story collection from the internationally celebrated author of A Tale of Love and Darkness
“Oz lifts the veil on kibbutz existence without palaver. His pinpoint descriptions are pared to perfection . . . His people twitch with life.” — Scotsman
In Between Friends, Amos Oz returns to the kibbutz of the late 1950s, the time and place where his writing began. These eight interconnected stories, set in the fictitious Kibbutz Yekhat, draw masterly profiles of idealistic men and women enduring personal hardships in the shadow of one of the greatest collective dreams of the twentieth century.
A devoted father who fails to challenge his daughter’s lover, an old friend, a man his own age; an elderly gardener who carries on his shoulders the sorrows of the world; a woman writing poignant letters to her husband’s mistress—amid this motley group of people, a man named Martin attempts to teach everyone Esperanto.
Each of these stories is a luminous human and literary study; together they offer an eloquent portrait of an idea and of a charged and fascinating epoch. Amos Oz at home. And at his best.
Translated from the Hebrew by Sondra Silverston
Winner of the National Jewish Book Award International Bestseller "[An] ingenious work that circles around the rise of a state, the tragic destiny of a mother, a boys creation of a new self." — The New Yorker A family saga and a magical self-portrait of a writer who witnessed the birth of a nation and lived through its turbulent history. A Tale of Love and Darkness is the story of a boy who grows up in war-torn Jerusalem, in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives speaking nearly as many. The story of an adolescent whose life has been changed forever by his mothers suicide. The story of a man who leaves the constraints of his family and community to join a kibbutz, change his name, marry, have children. The story of a writer who becomes an active participant in the political life of his nation. "One of the most enchanting and deeply satisfying books that I have read in many years." — New Republic
About the Author
Amos Oz is the author of numerous works of fiction and collections of essays. He has received the Prix Femina, the Israel Prize, and the Frankfurt Peace Prize. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages. Amos Oz lives in Israel.
Table of Contents
The King of Norway 1
Two Women 19
Between Friends 33
Little Boy 81
At Night 101
Deir Ajloun 125
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