In the winter of 1985 Yonaton Lifshitz decides to leave the kibbutz where he was born, and his sterile marriage, to start a new life. But the arrival of Azariah Gitlin brings about a painful reconciliation of their different destinies in a society struggling with changing realities.
'One day a man may just pick up and walk out. What he leaves behind stays behind. What's left behind has nothing to stare at but his back'In the winter of 1965, Yonaton Lifshitz decided to leave the kibbutz on which he was born, and his sterile marriage, to start a new life. But as he engineers his escape, the arrival of Azariah Gitlin, a keen new recruit, brings about a painful reconciliation of their different destinies in a society struggling with changing realities.
Born in Jerusalem in 1939, Amos Oz is the internationally acclaimed author of many novels and essay collections, translated into over 30 languages, including recently his brilliant semi-autiobiographical work, A Tale of Love and Darkness. He has received several international awards, including the Prix Femina, the Prix Mediterranee Etranger, the Israel Prize and the Frankfurt Peace Prize. He lives in Arad, Israel.
"The assurance of a master... diverse and ironical" Guardian "Evocative and penetrating... Oz handles his narrative with great agility" Sunday Times "A peerless imaginative chronicler of his country's inner and outer transformations" Independent "An exquisite thinker... Oz is a rare blast of sanity and intelligence" Observer
Generation gaps on a kibbutz in 1965 Israel - as Oz (In the Land of Israel, The Hill of Evil Counsel) once again highlights the socio-political conflicts within the Israeli population, counterpointing the ideological tensions with domestic strain and sexual ambivalence. Yonatan Lifshitz, 26, was born and ragged on Kibbutz Granot; he is the son of kibbutz secretary Yolek - who, as a brawny Labor Party pioneer (Levi Eshkol, now P.M., is an old friend/rival), represents one prototype of young Israel's founding generation. Yonatan, however, is an introvert who recoils from all of the burly kibbutz values, disdaining work duties in the truck shed. He feels trapped - by family and society, by his childless marriage (wife Rimona has had two doomed pregnancies). And, in this "long and rainy winter between wars," he prepares to leave forever, silently rehearsing farewell speeches: "Father. Mother. Goodbye. . . You dressed yourselves in rags, and ate dry bread with olives, and worked like coolies all day long, and sang yourself hoarse every night, and lived in an ecstatic trance, and gave me a white, white room with a housemother in a white, white apron who fed me white, white cream to make me a clean, honest, hard-working Jewish boy with a soul of forged steel. . . You poor suffering heroes, you miserable messiahs of the Jews, you tame-souled tamers of the wilderness, you crazy saviors of Israel, you fucking maniacs, you tyrants with diarrhea of the mouth!" Meanwhile, confused father Yolek composes lamentation-letters to old friend Eshkol - about the decadent Israeli youth, "a new exile sprouting right under our nose." Meanwhile, too, Yolek's wife Hava bitterly muses on the pioneer-politician's failings as husband and father. Likewise, the kibbutz's assistant-secretary has little use for the Ben-Gurion proteges - "their concealed hatreds, their cunning, their self-induced illnesses, their endless recourse to Yiddish and quotes from the Bible." But there's also a newcomer to the kibbutz, young orphan Azariah Gitlin, Holocaust survivor/immigrant: he eagerly tackles kibbutz labor, talking nonstop of Jewish history; he becomes part of a strange menage a trois with Yonatan and Rimona - who now becomes pregnant. . . but by whom? (There's similar mystery about the paternity of Yonatan himself.) And though Yonatan does eventually flee from the kibbutz, wandering south to the Jordan border, he'll ultimately return, both resigned and inspired - and prepared to share Israel's future (Rimona's child) with Azariah and the kibbutz. Here, and elsewhere, Oz's ambitious interweaving of political themes with domestic ones is sometimes less than successful, over-reaching. Throughout, however, the interplay of voices and issues is fresh, provocative, fascinatingly complex - with shrewd close-ups of melancholy second-generation Israel, "an entirely different tribe," paradoxically rootless. (Kirkus Reviews)
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