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Promised Lands

Cynthia Kee

22 February 1990
... as if into a fist-fight with someone who tried to kill my child, and I’d fight like the devil. But if I had been called up to fight the Lebanon war of ’82 I’d not go. I’d go to jail,’ said AmosOz, his voice gathering strength as he spoke. At a different point in our conversation he said: ‘If I thought Israel went wrong to the point of no return, I’d leave, but I’d still be Israeli ...
4 April 1991
To Know a Woman 
by Amos Oz, translated by Nicholas de Lange.
Chatto, 265 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 7011 3572 7
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The Smile of the Lamb 
by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 325 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 224 02639 9
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... AmosOz and David Grossman are both political writers. This might seem an obvious statement, given that they are well-known for being politically vocal and have both written political (non-fiction) books ...

Ariel the Unlucky

David Gilmour

5 April 1990
Warrior: The Autobiography of Ariel Sharon 
by Ariel Sharon and David Chanoff.
Macdonald, 571 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 356 17960 5
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The Slopes of Lebanon 
by Amos Oz, translated by Maurie Goldberg-Bartura.
Chatto, 246 pp., £13.95, January 1990, 0 7011 3444 5
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From Beirut to Jerusalem 
by Thomas Friedman.
Collins, 541 pp., £15, March 1990, 0 00 215096 4
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Pity the nation: Lebanon at War 
by Robert Fisk.
Deutsch, 622 pp., £17.95, February 1990, 0 233 98516 6
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... for the authors of all four of these books. It was the year of Ariel Sharon’s most sanguinary foreign venture, which ended in massacre, failure, and a measure of disgrace. For the Israeli novelist AmosOz, it was the year ‘the Land of Israel’ died in Lebanon, while for him personally it aroused feelings of alienation, the sense of being an exile in his own land. For Thomas Friedman, a Jewish ...
1 August 1985
A Perfect Peace 
by Amos Oz, translated by Hillel Halkin.
Chatto, 374 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 9780701129590
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... growing up meant putting by such longings altogether. The problem of promised lands, Utopian dreams, human cravings for a place of rest, a home – whether for the body or the spirit – is one that AmosOz returns to time and again in the two books of his most recently to be translated into English, A Perfect Peace and In the Land of Israel. In both he suggests that coming to terms with such ...
17 August 2006
... after a border incident which it exploited in order to destroy a country, with the overwhelming support of Israelis, including the members of what the European press calls the ‘peace camp’. AmosOz, on 20 July, when the destruction of Lebanon was already well underway, wrote in the Evening Standard: ‘This time, Israel is not invading Lebanon. It is defending itself from a daily harassment ...
20 September 2001
The Same Sea 
by Amos Oz.
Chatto, 201 pp., £15.99, February 2001, 0 7011 6924 9
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... The best thing about AmosOz’s novel in verse is almost untranslatable: his Hebrew poetry is too dense for any European language to convey. The musicality and rhythm are impressive, and Oz’s mastery of free indirect speech allows him to effect a continuous movement between his narrator and his characters. Free indirect speech plays a major role in modern Hebrew prose, partly because ...


Ronan Bennett

11 February 1993
by Oriana Fallaci, translated by James Marcus.
Chatto, 599 pp., £15.99, November 1992, 0 7011 3835 1
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... Western, anti-liberal side, the side engaged in the fighting. What Fallaci serves up here, unintentionally is further proof of how difficult modern novelists – with exceptions, like Timothy Mo and AmosOz – find it to write about sectarian conflict ...

Tucked in

Nicholas Spice

24 February 1994
by Amos Oz.
Chatto, 352 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 7011 4004 6
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... In Fima the asymmetry in relations between men and women is presented with indulgent humour and excessive sensitivity, and from a predominantly, if not dominatingly, male viewpoint. Oz’s treatment of the theme is ragged and passionate, discursive and repetitive. This is inevitable given that the novel is almost entirely entrusted to a single character, Efraim Nomberg Nisan (known ...
24 October 1991
by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Rosaline Dukalsky Schwartz.
Cape, 224 pp., £13.99, October 1991, 0 224 03200 3
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... incarnate in speech and spirit, in herring and onion roll – where Singer’s characters reside seems a long way either from modern America or from modern Israel, or from the problems authors like AmosOz write about in their contemporary Hebrew. Singer’s memoir of his early years, Love and Exile, may be, as he says, ‘basically autobiographical’, but names and dates and the course of events ...

Dry Eyes

John Bayley

5 December 1991
Jump and Other Stories 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 257 pp., £13.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1020 2
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Wilderness Tips 
by Margaret Atwood.
Bloomsbury, 247 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 7475 1019 9
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... and The Conservationist. But her real talents are compromised by this style of celebrity in a way that does not reflect on them, yet imprisons them; and that seems not to happen to a novelist like AmosOz, whose subject is not so much Israel and its future as some vision of his own about human beings and their spiritual insides. This is not the same as ‘intertwining the personal with the ...


Naomi Shepherd: Israel’s longing for normality

3 February 2005
... wrecking the basic faith of the Israeli public in its own history and replacing the nationalist agenda with the world view of the European New Left (think of John Lennon)’. Their targets included AmosOz and A.B. Yehoshua, who were criticised for peopling their work with neurotic characters; leading artists, for following cosmopolitan fashion; educationalists, for the decline in the teaching of ...

How Not to Invade

Patrick Cockburn: Lebanon

5 August 2010
Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East 
by David Hirst.
Faber, 480 pp., £20, March 2010, 978 0 571 23741 8
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The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle 
by Michael Young.
Simon and Schuster, 295 pp., £17.99, July 2010, 978 1 4165 9862 6
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... knew full well how its Christian proxies had previously dealt with Palestinian civilians. ‘If you invite the Yorkshire Ripper to spend a couple of nights in an orphanage for small girls,’ AmosOz remarked, ‘you can’t, later on, just look over the piles of bodies and say you made an agreement with the Ripper – that he’d just wash the girls’ hair.’ The incursions of 1996 and 2006 ...

Wrong Side of the River

Robert Alter: River Jordan

21 June 2012
River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line 
by Rachel Havrelock.
Chicago, 320 pp., £26, December 2011, 978 0 226 31957 5
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... establishing a set of equivalences between the two peoples, she does not hint that there are also asymmetries which further complicate the prospects for any resolution. A few years ago, the novelist AmosOz, a strong voice in the Israeli peace movement, said that after long viewing the conflict as a clash between two rights, he now thought it might be a clash between two wrongs. And the wrongs are ...

Israel’s Putinisation

Adam Shatz: Israel’s Putinisation

18 February 2016
... deny public funding to those who fail to demonstrate loyalty to the Jewish state. Hours after the bill was introduced, Im Tirtzu released a list of supposed ‘moles’, including David Grossman, AmosOz and other members of the liberal Zionist establishment. This was too much even for Bennett, who described the list as ‘embarrassing’. But Regev is thought to be more in tune with the attacks ...
23 February 1995
... about. What hope, anyway, did these Palestinians ever have of recovering homes they left almost half a century ago? Israeli historians like Benny Morris, Israeli authors like David Grossman and AmosOz, have written eloquently of their catastrophe. But in 1950, the Israeli government passed the Absentee Property Law which still forbids Selma Tawil and the other 750,000 Palestinians from ever ...

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