Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category
Ayelet Waldman’s new book begins in Red Hook, Maine, the setting of her novel RED HOOK ROAD, but the two could hardly be more different. For whereas she had previously confined herself to two families in the same setting over a period of a very few years, she travels in this one to Salzburg, Budapest, and Israel, at various periods over a hundred-year span. By the same token, though, it is a stretch to call Love and Treasure a novel; it is essentially a trilogy of novellas, each with different characters, but linked by a single object and common themes. The object is an enameled Jugendstil pendant in the shape of a peacock. Although only of modest value, it plays an important role in the lives of the people who people who possess it, and provides a focus for the novelist’s enquiry into the lives of Hungarian Jews both before and after the Holocaust.
Long though it is, this quotation sums up just about everything about Roth’s magnificent novel of 1976: its strange title, its grand theme, its somewhat simplistic view of history, and its humor that jumps cheerfully into offensive self-mockery. A long section of the novel takes place in Israel shortly after the Yom Kippur War, when the stereotypes were indeed being turned on their heads, and conversely significant criticism of the state was beginning to be heard from the West. But Roth’s principal subject is not the engaged Jews who assert their selfhood either through Zionism or religion, but the countless secular Jews like himself, living securely in a distant country; how do they establish their identity, especially in mid-life when the question of “Is this really all I am?” typically arises.
January 7, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: 20th-Century, Identity, Jewishness, Time Period Fiction Â· Posted in: Contemporary, Facing History, Israel, Literary, Man Booker International Prize, National Book Critic Circle (NBCC), y Award Winning Author
Yael Hedaya was a screenwriter for the acclaimed Israeli TV drama series Betipul (In Treatment), which was adapted for the United States and currently airs on HBO. This background shows in her novel, EDEN, with her attention to the emotions, human interactions and the inner workings of the charactersâ€™ minds. Edenâ€™s translator, Jessica Cohen, does a stunning job. The book flows without awkwardness or hesitation.
This is a book about the intertwined lives of the people of Eden â€“ the good, the bad, the indifferent and the morally ambiguous. Until tragedies hit, they go about their lives in a very insular way. Even with tragedy, they are more apt to talk about it than to take action.
Ora is a fiftyish Israeli woman thinking about her younger son, Ofer, who has not merely left home, but done so in a way that fills her with fear. On the day of his discharge from military service, when he is already on leave at home, he volunteers to join the forces fighting some unspecified action in Southern Lebanon, signing up for a further month. Terrified that at any moment a notification team will turn up at her house to inform her of Ofer’s death, Ora flees to the Galilee mountains, beyond the reach of any news. As her husband Ilan has left her several months before, taking with him their eldest son, Ora is all alone. On impulse, she calls on Avram, a former lover who has fallen on hard times, seeking his company, his listening ear, and perhaps his restoration to mental and physical health, along with her own. The whole novel is essentially her “Month of Magical Thinking,” in which the past combines with the present, folding her personal history and that of her country into an almost mystical union.
The narrative focuses on four Jewish women, all Holocaust survivors, all Atlit inmates, all from extremely different backgrounds, who wait for their release from the camp and the freedom to, hopefully, begin new lives as pioneers on kibbutzim, (collective farms or settlements). Anita Diamant writes, “Not one of the women in Barrack C is twenty-one, but all of them are orphans.”
Ted Conover won a National Book Critics Circle award for his last work of non-fiction, NEWJACK, a narrative about the Sing Sing prison. One can imagine that after such an endeavor he went after freedomâ€”the essence of it personified by a wide stretch of empty road.
In his new book, THE ROUTES OF MAN, Conover takes a look at different roads all across the world and takes us along for the ride.