`One of the greatest prose writers in contemporary fiction' The Times In the last years of British rule in Jerusalem, a lonely, bookish Israeli boy befriends a British soldier in this tale of friendship in the face of enmity. British soldiers patrol the streets, and bullets and bombs are a nightly occurrence.
Set in the summer of 1947, this is a funny, touching, semi-autobiographical rites-of-passage novel about a lonely boy (nicknamed Profi, short for professor, because he is a bookish, serious kid) growing up in Jerusalem in the last years of British rule. From underground resistance, he is drawn into friendship with the enemy - a British soldier - to whom he gives Hebrew lessons in return for English instruction.
Born in Jerusalem in 1939, Amos Oz is the internationally acclaimed author of many novels and essay collections, translated into over forty languages, including his brilliant semi-autobiographical work, A Tale of Love and Darkness. He has received several international awards, including the Prix Femina, the Israel Prize, the Goethe Prize, the Frankfurt Peace Prize and the 2013 Franz Kafka Prize. He lives in Israel and is considered a towering figure in world literature.
"Countries need writers as their voices of conscience; few have them. Israel has Oz" Washington Post "One of the greatest prose writers in contemporary fiction" The Times "Amos Oz is a great writer because he tells stories about real people in a way that no one else can" -- Alan Sillitoe "He has that mixture of lyrical intensity, utter seriousness and capacity for describing life in a few words which characterises some of the best Russian authors" -- Melvyn Bragg "There are times when you are reminded what it means to be in the presence of a genius...with Amos Oz you have to add wisdom and hope too" Scotsman
A wonderful short novel from the increasingly acclaimed Israeli author. This time, Oz (Don't Call It Night, 1996, etc.) offers the first-person narrative of an imaginative and intelligent 12-year-old boy nicknamed Proffy (short for "Professor"), living just outside Jerusalem in 1947, the final year of the British "mandate" (occupation). Determined to grow up to fight for his people's independence, Proffy joins two comrades in forming a make-believe underground resistance movement he calls FOD ("Freedom or Death"). He imagines himself a "panther in the basement," silently crouching and biding his time awaiting an opportunity to "pounce on" the hated British. But while out one night beyond curfew, Proffy is apprehended by the unprepossessing Sergeant Dunlop, a clumsy British policeman who turns out to be sympathetic toward Jews and deeply enamored of their culture. He and Proffy meet secretly in a local cafe, exchanging Hebrew and English lessons, and bringing Proffy to a paradoxical reevaluation of himself as "a young Hebrew Underground fighter, whose life is devoted to driving out the foreign oppressor, but whose soul is bound up with his. . . . "This amazingly compact novel features several vivid supporting characters (including Proffy's severe scholarly father and forthright mother, his judgmental friends Ben Hut and Chita, and Ben Hut's grownup sister Yardena, a woman wise beyond her years) and such marvelous set-pieces as Proffy's long rhapsodic description of the books in his father's study, and a moving climactic moment of understanding between father and son on the eve of the formation of the state of Israel. Oz expertly blends together an ingenious allegory of the Israeli resistance movement, a shimmering portrait of life in postwar Jerusalem and environs, and an unforgettable characterization of its sentient young hero - who's thoroughly believable both as a confused preadolescent and as the mature writer looking backward on his, and his country's, youth from the vantage point of middle age. Another triumph, and further evidence of Oz's increasing claim to serious Nobel Prize consideration. (Kirkus Reviews)
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