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Promised Lands

Cynthia Kee, 22 February 1990

... if I had been called up to fight the Lebanon war of ’82 I’d not go. I’d go to jail,’ said Amos Oz, 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. It would be those bastards back there that ...

There was and there was not

Jonathan Coe, 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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... Amos Oz 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 consisting of interviews with their Palestinian and Israeli countrymen. But the main thing is that they also write intensely and truthfully political novels of the sort which tend to be thin on the ground in Britain ...

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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... venture, which ended in massacre, failure, and a measure of disgrace. For the Israeli novelist Amos Oz, 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 American journalist, the refugee camp atrocities ...

It’s wild. It’s new. It turns men on

Yitzhak Laor: Amos Oz, 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 Amos Oz’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 ...

An Outpost of Ashdod

Nicholas Spice, 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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... human cravings for a place of rest, a home – whether for the body or the spirit – is one that Amos Oz 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 yearning is a precondition of maturity. A Perfect Peace is a ...

You are terrorists, we are virtuous

Yitzhak Laor: The IDF, 17 August 2006

... support of Israelis, including the members of what the European press calls the ‘peace camp’. Amos Oz, 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 and bombardment of dozens of our towns and villages by ...


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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... is further proof of how difficult modern novelists – with exceptions, like Timothy Mo and Amos Oz – find it to write about sectarian ...


Naomi Shepherd: Israel’s longing for normality, 3 February 2005

... with the world view of the European New Left (think of John Lennon)’. Their targets included Amos Oz 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 the Bible, the Talmud and Jewish history in schools; and ...

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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... 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 as Fima to his friends), whose profligacy with words and ...

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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... that does not reflect on them, yet imprisons them; and that seems not to happen to a novelist like Amos Oz, 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 political’, and delineating ‘each shift’ in the African ...

Singer’s Last Word

John Bayley, 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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... a long way either from modern America or from modern Israel, or from the problems authors like Amos Oz 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 have been changed, in some cases both for family ...

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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... which further complicate the prospects for any resolution. A few years ago, the novelist Amos Oz, 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 not entirely equivalent. Both peoples have shaped their ...

Israel’s Putinisation

Adam Shatz: Israel’s Putinisation, 18 February 2016

... bill was introduced, Im Tirtzu released a list of supposed ‘moles’, including David Grossman, Amos Oz 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 against the old Ashkenazi elite. On the Israeli ...

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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... you invite the Yorkshire Ripper to spend a couple of nights in an orphanage for small girls,’ Amos Oz 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 both involved the bombing and shelling of ...

Remaining Issues

Robert Fisk, 23 February 1995

... half a century ago? Israeli historians like Benny Morris, Israeli authors like David Grossman and Amos Oz, 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 returning – if they left their homes in what is now ...

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