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To the End of the Landby David Grossman
Synopses & Reviews
From one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers comes a novel of extraordinary power about family life—the greatest human drama—and the cost of war.
Ora, a middle-aged Israeli mother, is on the verge of celebrating her son Ofer’s release from army service when he returns to the front for a major offensive. In a fit of preemptive grief and magical thinking, she sets out for a hike in the Galilee, leaving no forwarding information for the “notifiers” who might darken her door with the worst possible news. Recently estranged from her husband, Ilan, she drags along an unlikely companion: their former best friend and her former lover Avram, once a brilliant artistic spirit. Avram served in the army alongside Ilan when they were young, but their lives were forever changed one weekend when the two jokingly had Ora draw lots to see which of them would get the few days’ leave being offered by their commander—a chance act that sent Avram into Egpyt and the Yom Kippur War, where he was brutally tortured as POW. In the aftermath, a virtual hermit, he refused to keep in touch with the family and has never met the boy. Now, as Ora and Avram sleep out in the hills, ford rivers, and cross valleys, avoiding all news from the front, she gives him the gift of Ofer, word by word; she supplies the whole story of her motherhood, a retelling that keeps Ofer very much alive for Ora and for the reader, and opens Avram to human bonds undreamed of in his broken world. Their walk has a “war and peace” rhythm, as their conversation places the most hideous trials of war next to the joys and anguish of raising children. Never have we seen so clearly the reality and surreality of daily life in Israel, the currents of ambivalence about war within one household, and the burdens that fall on each generation anew.
Grossman’s rich imagining of a family in love and crisis makes for one of the great antiwar novels of our time.
Fleeing to Galilee in despair when her son voluntarily rejoins the Israeli army, Ora drags along estranged family friend Avram, a tortured former POW to whom she relates her experiences of motherhood against a backdrop of constant war and fear.
A novel of extraordinary power about the costs of war from one of Israel's greatest writers.
Ora is about to celebrate her son Ofer's release from Israeli army service when he voluntarily rejoins. In a fit of magical thinking, she takes off to hike in the Galilee, leaving no forwarding information for the notifiers who might deliver the worst news a parent can hear. Recently estranged from her husband, she drags along an unlikely companion: their once best friend Avram, who was tortured as a POW during the Yom Kippur War and, in his brokenness, refused to ever know the boy or even to keep in touch with them.
Now, as they hike, Ora unfurls the story of her motherhood and initiates the lonely Avram in the drama of the human family--a telling that keeps Ofer alive for both his mother and the reader. Her story places the most hideous trials of war alongside the daily joys and anguish of raising children: never have we seen so clearly the reality and surreality of daily life in Israel, the currents of ambivalence about war within one household, the burdens that fall on each generation anew.
Grossman's rich imagining of a family in love and crisis makes for one of the great antiwar novels of our time.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
David Grossman was born in Jerusalem. He is the author of numerous works of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature. His work has appeared here in The New Yorker and has been translated into twenty-five languages around the world. He is the recipient of numerous prizes, including the French Chevalier de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres, the Buxtehuder Bulle in Germany, Rome’s Premio per la Pace e l’Azione Umitaria, the Premio Ischia International Award for Journalism, Israel’s Emet Prize, and the Albatross Prize given by the Günther Grass Foundation.
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