Synopses & Reviews
“Scenes from Village Life
is like a symphony, its movements more impressive together than in isolation. There is, in each story, a particular chord or strain; but taken together, these chords rise and reverberate, evoking an unease so strong it’s almost a taste in the mouth . . . Scenes from Village Life
is a brief collection, but its brevity is a testament to its force. You will not soon forget it.”—New York Times Book Review
Strange things are happening in Tel Ilan, a century-old pioneer village. A disgruntled retired politician complains to his daughter that he hears the sound of digging at night. Could it be their tenant, that young Arab? But then the young Arab hears the digging sounds too. And where has the mayor’s wife gone, vanished without a trace, her note saying “Don’t worry about me”?
Around the village, the veneer of new wealth—gourmet restaurants, art galleries, a winery—barely conceals the scars of war and of past generations: disused air-raid shelters, rusting farm tools, and trucks left wherever they stopped. Scenes From Village Life is a memorable novel in stories by the inimitable Amos Oz: a brilliant, unsettling glimpse of what goes on beneath the surface of everyday life.
Translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange
“Finely wrought . . . Oz writes characterizations that are subtle but surgically precise, rendering this work a powerfully understated treatment of an uneasy Israeli conscience." —Publishers Weekly, starred
“Informed by everything, weighed down by nothing, this is an exquisite work of art.”—The Scotsman
In the village of Tel Ilan, something is off kilter. An elderly man complains to his daughter that he hears the sound of digging under his house at night. Could it be his tenant, a young Arab? But then the tenant hears the mysterious digging sounds too. The mayor receives a note from his wife: "Dont worry about me." He looks all over, no sign of her. The veneer of new wealth around the village—gourmet restaurants and art galleries, a winery--cannot conceal abandoned outbuildings, disused air raid shelters, rusting farm tools, and trucks left wherever they stopped.
Amos Oz's novel-in-stories is a brilliant, unsettling glimpse of what goes on beneath the surface of everyday life. Scenes from Village Life is a parable for Israel, and for all of us.
Oz's fictional community of Metsudat Ram is a microcosm of the Israeli frontier kibbutz, where, held together by necessity and menace, the kibbutz-niks share love and sorrow under the guns of their enemies and the eyes of history. Translated by Nicholas de Lange in collaboration with the Author. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
Fimas life in Jerusalem always manages to become enmeshed in the mundane. With wit and storytelling mastery, Oz portrays a man - and a generation - that has dreams but does nothing. Named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Translated by Nicholas de Lange. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
An important testimony as well as a moving portrait of a divided land is revealed in this collection of provocative essays and speeches on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (variously composed before and after the peace initiatives). Preface by the Author. Translated by Nicholas de Lange. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
Set in Israel just before the Six-Day War, this novel describes life on a kibbutz, where the founders of Israel and their children struggle to come to terms with their land and with each other. Ozs “strangest, riskiest, and richest novel” (Washington Post Book World). Translated by Hillel Halkin. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
Yoel Ravid devoted many years to the Israeli secret service, his uncanny instinct and ability to sense the truth making him an invaluable agent. Now widowed and retired, Yoel lives in a house in a Tel Aviv suburb with his mother, his mother-in-law, his daughter, and the haunting memory of his wife. Selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Translated by Nicholas de Lange. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book.
Oz traveled throughout Israel and the West Bank in the 1980s and spoke with many people about the past, present, and future of his country. What he found is memorably set down here. New Authors Note and Postscript; map. Translated by Maurie Goldberg-Bartura. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
Three stories in which history and imaginative narrative intertwine to re-create the world of Jerusalem during the last days of the British Mandate. A book “as complex, vivid and uncompromising as Jerusalem itself” (The Nation). Translated by Nicholas de Lange in collaboration with the Author. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
From “a great and true voice of our time” (Washington Post Book World), comes this story of Proffy, a twelve-year-old living in Palestine in 1947. When Proffy befriends a member of the occupying British forces who shares his love of language and the Bible, he is accused of treason by his friends and learns the true nature of loyalty and betrayal. Translated by Nicholas de Lange.
Oz has crafted an intricate tale of people constantly seeking escape from a hostile world, an escape symbolized on its highest level by the watchmaker Pomeranz, a mathematician and musician. By the power of his music, he causes the arid earth to turn into a moist womb that receives him and his wife not in death but in immortality. Translated by Nicholas de Lange. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
In this deft, masterly book, Amos Oz turns his attention away from his familythe subject of the internationally acclaimed A Tale of Love and Darknessand toward his profession, writing. The plot: eight hours in the life of an author. The setting: Tel Aviv, a stifling, hot night. A literary celebrity is giving a reading from his new book. And as his attention wanders, he begins to invent lives for the strangers he sees around him: here, a self-styled cultural guru, Yakir Bar-Orian Zhitomirski; there, a love-starved professional reader, Rochele Reznik; to say nothing of Ricky the waitress, the real object of his desire. One life story builds on another, and the author finds himself unexpectedly involved with his creations . . .
A novel in stories by acclaimed Israeli author Amos Oz.
Praise for Scenes from Village Life
“In exquisitely controlled prose, renowned Israeli author Oz reminds us of the creepy unsureness that underlies all ‘village’ life, rural or urban—and not just in Israel.” –Library Journal (starred)
“Subtle but surgically precise . . . a powerfully understated treatment of an uneasy Israeli conscience.” –Publishers Weekly (starred)
“The book’s atmosphere of desolation and disquiet is bewitching.” —The Times (UK)
“An impressive and very affecting achievement . . . These stories, in their humanity, may do more for Israel than any of the decisions we have been lead to expect of its leaders in the months to come.” —The New Statesman (UK)
The haunting poetry of [Oz’s] prose and the stunning logic of his testimony make a potent mixture.” — Washington Post Book World
Amos Oz was one of the first voices of conscience to advocate for a two-state solution. As a founding member of the Peace Now movement, Oz has spent over thirty-five years speaking out on this issue, and these powerful essays and speeches span an important and formative period for understanding today’s tension and crises. Whether he is discoursing on the role of writers in society or recalling his grandmother’s death in the context of the language’s veracity; examining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a tragicomedy or questioning the Zionist dream, Oz remains trenchant and unflinching in this moving portrait of a divided land.
“[Oz is] the modern prophet of Israel.” — Sunday Telegraph (UK)
A New York Times
Notable Book of the Year
“A rich symphony of humanity . . . If Oz’s eye for detail is enviable, it is his magnanimity which raises him to the first rank of world authors.” —Sunday Telegraph (UK)
At Tel-Kedar, a settlement in the Negev desert, the longtime love affair between Theo, a sixty-year-old civil engineer, and Noa, a young schoolteacher, is slowly disintegrating. When a pupil dies under difficult circumstances, the couple and the entire town are thrown into turmoil. Amos Oz explores with brilliant insight the possibilities—and limits—of love and tolerance.
“Vivid, convincing, and haunting.” —New York Times Book Review
“Astonishing . . . galvanic and intoxicating.” —The New Yorker
Fima lives in Jerusalem, but feels he ought to be somewhere else. In his life he has had secret love affairs, good ideas, and written a book of poems that aroused expectations. He has thought about the purpose of the universe and where the country lost its way. He has felt longings of all sorts, and the constant desire to pen a new chapter. And here he is now, in his early fifties in a shabby apartment on a gloomy wet morning, engaged in a humiliating struggle to release his shirt from the zipper of his fly. With wit and insight, Amos Oz portrays a man—and a generation—dreaming noble dreams but doing nothing.
“One of Oz’s most memorable fictional creations . . . Fima is a cross between Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya and Joyce’s Leopold Bloom.” — Washington Post
“An exemplary instance of a writer using his craft to come to grips with what is happening politically and to illuminate certain aspects of Israeli society that have generally been concealed by polemical formulas.” —The New York Times
Notebook in hand, Amos Oz traveled throughout Israel and the West Bank in the early 1980s to talk with workers, soldiers, religious zealots, aging pioneers, new immigrants, desperate Arabs, and visionaries, asking them questions about Israel’s past, present, and future. What he heard is set down here in those distinctive voices, alongside Oz’s observations and reflections. A classic insider’s view of a land whose complex past and troubled present make for an uncertain future.
“Oz’s vignettes . . . wondrously re-create whole worlds with an economy of words.” —Philadelphia Inquirer
"A generous imagination at work. [Ozs] language, for all of its sensuous imagery, has a careful and wise simplicity." — New York Times Book Review Situated only two miles from a hostile border, Amos Ozs fictional community of Metsudat Ram is a microcosm of the Israeli frontier kibbutz. There, held together by necessity and menace, the kibbutzniks share love and sorrow under the guns of their enemies and the eyes of history. "Immensely enjoyable." — Chicago Tribune Book World
"A profusion of delightful passages couched in unfailingly lovely language." — New York Times Book Review 1939. As the Nazis advance into Poland, a Jewish mathematician and watchmaker named Pomeranz escapes into the wintry forest, leaving behind his beautiful, intelligent wife, Stefa. After the war, having evaded the concentration camps, they begin to build new lives, Stefa in Stalins Russia and Pomeranz in Israel, where, as they move toward reunion, another war is brewing. An intricate tale of people seeking escape from a hostile world in thrillingly fantastical ways. "Lyrical . . . Its youthfulness and energy are exhilarating." — The New Yorker
An ingenious, witty, behind-the-scenes novel about eight hours in the life of an author.
A literary celebrity is in Tel Aviv on a stifling hot night to give a reading from his new book.While the obligatory inane questions ("Why do you write? What is it like to be famous? Do you write with a pen or on a computer?) are being asked and answered, his attention wanders and he begins to invent lives for the strangers he sees around him. Among them are Yakir Bar-Orian Zhitomirski, a self-styled literary guru; Tsefania Beit-Halachmi, a poet (whose work provides the novels title); and Rochele Reznik, a professional reader, with whom the Author has a brief but steamy sexual skirmish; to say nothing of Ricky the waitress, the real object of his desire. One life story builds on another—and the author finds himself unexpectedly involved with his creations.
“Oz’s strangest, riskiest, and richest novel.” —Washington Post Book World
Israel, just before the Six-Day War. On a kibbutz, the country’s founders and their children struggle to come to terms with their land and with each other. The messianic father exults in accomplishments that had once been only dreams; the son longs to establish an identity apart from his father; the fragile young wife is out of touch with reality; and the gifted and charismatic “outsider” seethes with emotion. Through the interplay of these brilliantly realized characters, Oz evokes a drama that is chillingly, strikingly universal.
“[Oz is] a peerless, imaginative chronicler of his country’s inner and outer transformations.” —Independent (UK)
A rich and varied selection of writings from the early sixties to the present by Amos Oz, one of Israels leading novelists, public intellectuals, and political activists.
The Reader features extensive excerpts from the entire range of Oz's career, loosely grouped into four themes which Oz's work has consistently reflected: the kibbutz, the city of Jerusalem, the idea of "promised land", and his own life story. Editor Nitza ben-Dov has included extracts from a career-spanning range of Oz's novels, among them WHERE THE JACKALS HOWL, ELSEWHERE PERHAPS, A PERFECT PEACE, MY MICHAEL, CRUSADE, FIMA, BLACK BOX, and TO KNOW A WOMAN. Nonfiction is represented by selections from UNDER THIS BLAZING LIGHT, THE SLOPES OF LEBANON, IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL, and Ozs recent masterpiece, A TALE OF LOVE AND DARKNESS. Brought together thus, we can see how firmly grounded all of his writing is in the Israeli reality he knows so intimately and about which he feels so passionately the Jerusalem of his childhood, the kibbutz where he lived and worked for many years, the landscape and politics of the land of Israel.
THE AMOS OZ READER is an invaluable introduction to the work of one of the most highly regarded writers in the world today.
draws on Ozs entire body of work, loosely grouped into four themes: the kibbutz, the city of Jerusalem, the idea of a "promised land," and his own life story. Included are excerpts from his celebrated novels, among them Where the Jackals Howl, A Perfect Peace, My Michael, Fima, Black Box,
and To Know a Woman.
Nonfiction is represented by selections from Under This Blazing Light, The Slopes of Lebanon, In the Land of Israel,
and Ozs masterpiece, A Tale of Love and Darkness.
Robert Alter, a noted Hebrew scholar and translator, has provided an illuminating introduction.
“In a world full of hype, noise, and confusion, the simple lucidity of The Same Sea
is totally unexpected.” — New York Times Book Review
The Same Sea is Amos Oz’s most adventurous and inventive book, a novel of lyrical beauty and narrative power. We meet the middle-aged Albert; his wife, whom he has lost to cancer; his prodigal son, who wanders the mountains of Tibet hoping to find himself; and his son’s young girlfriend, with whom Albert becomes infatuated. The author himself receives phone calls from his creations, criticizing him for his portraits of them. A fever dream of chaos and order, love and eroticism, loyalty and betrayal.
“A prose poem . . . at once melancholic and sensual.” — The New Yorker
“Countries need writers as their voices of conscience; few have them. Israel has Oz.” — Washington Post
The year is 1947: the last days of the British mandate in Palestine. Twelve-year-old Proffy, indoctrinated by his patriotic father and a zealous Bible teacher, dreams of dying heroically in battle, fighting for the creation of a Jewish state. Then he meets and befriends a kindly British soldier who shares with Proffy a love of language and the Bible. Accused of treason for the friendship, Proffy must learn the true nature of loyalty and betrayal. Panther in the Basement is a rich tapestry of character and political intrigue set against the birth of modern Israel.
“Insightful, inventive, and lyrical.” — New York Times Book Review
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
"Thoughtful, self-assured and highly sophisticated, full of the most skillful modulations of tone and texture. A modern Israeli Madame Bovary.”—New York Times Book Review
Set in 1950s Jerusalem, My Michael is the story of a remote and intense woman named Hannah Gonen and her marriage to a decent but unremarkable man named Michael. As the years pass and Hannah’s tempestuous fantasy life encroaches upon reality, she feels increasingly estranged from him and the marriage gradually disintegrates. Gorgeously written, profoundly moving, this extraordinary novel is at once a haunting love story, and a rich reflective portrait of a place.
"A dazzling, very beautiful, splendidly conceived and composed book." —New York Review of Books
"Sensuous prose and indelible imagery." — New York Times Three stories in which history and imagination intertwine to re-create the world of Jerusalem during the last days of the British Mandate. Refugees drawn to Jerusalem in search of safety are confronted by activists relentlessly preparing for an uprising, oblivious to the risks. Meanwhile, a wife abandons her husband, and a dying man longs for his departed lover. Among these characters lives a boy named Uri, a friend and confidant of several conspirators who love and humor him as he weaves in and out of all three stories. The Hill of Evil Counsel is "as complex, vivid, and uncompromising as Jerusalem itself" (Nation).
A couple, long married, are spending an unaccustomed week apart. Ya'ari, an engineer, is busy juggling the day-to-day needs of his elderly father, his children, and his grandchildren. His wife, Daniela, flies from Tel Aviv to East Africa to mourn the death of her older sister. There she confronts her anguished brother-in-law, Yirmiyahu, whose soldier son was killed six years earlier in the West Bank by friendly fire." Yirmiyahu is now managing a team of African researchers digging for the bones of mans primate ancestors as he desperately strives to detach himself from every shred of his identity, Jewish and Israeli.
With great artistry, A. B. Yehoshua has once again written a rich, compassionate, rewarding novel in which sharply rendered details of modern Israeli life and age-old mysteries of human existence echo one another in complex and surprising ways.
About the Author
was born in Jerusalem in 1939. He is the author of fourteen novels and collections of short fiction, and numerous works of nonfiction. His acclaimed memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness
was an international bestseller and recipient of the prestigious Goethe prize, as well as the National Jewish Book Award. Scenes from Village Life
, a New York Times
Notable Book, was awarded the Prix Méditerranée Étranger in 2010. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Nicholas de Lange is a professor at the University of Cambridge and a renowned translator. He has translated Amos Ozs work since the 1960s.
Table of Contents
Introductionby Robert Alter
The Kibbutz "an exemplary non-failure"
The Kibbutz at the Present Time ( from Under This Blazing Light-- an essay)/ 7-11
Where the Jackals Howl (from Where the Jackals Howl-- a story)/ 12-29
The Way of the Wind (from Where the Jackals Howl-- a story) 30-51
An Extended Family (from Elsewhere, Perhaps)/ 52-79
Secret Adaptability (from A Perfect Peace)/ 95-125
Jerusalem An Alien City
An Alien City (from Under This Blazing Light -- an essay)/ 129-135
It's Cold in this Jerusalem of Yours (from My Michael)/ 136-158
Whoever Moves toward the Light Moves toward the Holy City (from Crusade)/ 176-215
Life Nowadays is like a Stupid Party (from The Hill of Evil Counsel --a novella)/232-258
A City where All Men are Half Prophet, Half Prime Minister (from Fima)/ 290-326
In the Promised Land
The Meaning of Homeland (from Under This Blazing Light -- an essay)/ 351-373
Thank God for His Daily Blessing (from In the Land of Israel -- epilogue)/ 374-394
Yours with Great Respect and in Jewish Solidarity (from Black Box)/ 395-429
And So Yoel Ravid Began to Give In (from To Know a Woman)/ 436-465
Hebrew Melodies (from The Slopes of Lebanon -- prologue)/ 494-516
In an Autobiographical Vein
An autobiographical note (from Under This Blazing Light an essay)/ 519-524
Father and Son in a Search for Love (from The Same Sea) 525-527
My Mother was Thirty-Eight when She Died (from A Tale of Love and Darkness)/ 528-541
Imagining the Other is a Deep and Subtle Human Pleasure (Goethe Prize Speech)