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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 ...

Miles from Palestine

Robert Fisk, 23 June 1988

The Yellow Wind 
by David Grossman, translated by Haim Watzman.
Cape, 202 pp., £10.95, June 1988, 9780224025669
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... even further away? Eight years later, in the Deheisha refugee camp on the occupied West Bank, David Grossman experienced a faintly similar phenomenon. He was listening to an old Palestinian woman remembering her past, in the village of Ain Azrab, baking bread over a straw fire, the woman all the time unconsciously working her fingers through the ...

Heaps upon Heaps

Jenny Diski: The myth of Samson, 20 July 2006

Lion’s Honey: The Myth of Samson 
by David Grossman.
Canongate, 155 pp., £12.99, June 2006, 1 84195 656 2
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... the poster boy for gang moronics, for self-destructive, incommensurate revenge? According to David Grossman, all Jewish children when they first hear the story learn to call him Samson the Hero. He is wrong about this, but then my Jewish childhood was not in Hebrew or in Israel. I recall the Samson story mainly as an early introduction to the power ...

Uncle Kingsley

Patrick Parrinder, 22 March 1990

The folks that live on the hill 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 246 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 09 174137 8
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Kingsley Amis: An English Moralist 
by John McDermott.
Macmillan, 270 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 9780333449691
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In the Red Kitchen 
by Michèle Roberts.
Methuen, 148 pp., £11.99, March 1990, 9780413630209
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See Under: Love 
by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 458 pp., £13.95, January 1990, 0 224 02640 2
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... other two novelists under review are more blatant in this respect, since both Michèle Roberts and David Grossman have written novels which pivot on the sentimental privileging of authorship. ‘I want to tell you my stories. I want to record my life with you. I want to give myself a history,’ insists one of Roberts’s narrators, a contemporary writer ...

Failed State

Jacqueline Rose: David Grossman, 18 March 2004

Death as a Way of Life: Dispatches from Jerusalem 
by David Grossman.
Bloomsbury, 179 pp., £8.99, April 2003, 0 7475 6619 4
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Someone to Run With 
by David Grossman.
Bloomsbury, 374 pp., £7.99, March 2004, 9780747568124
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... In David Grossman’s 1998 novel, Be My Knife, an antiquarian book-dealer starts a passionate correspondence with a woman whom he has barely caught sight of across a room. The unlikely circumstances of their relationship, its unusual fusion of intimacy and distance, allow them to say, or rather write, things which neither of them has ever admitted before ...

Make them go away

Neal Ascherson: Grossman’s Failure, 3 February 2011

To the End of the Land 
by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen.
Cape, 577 pp., £18.99, September 2010, 978 0 224 08999 9
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... blurb hyperbole with a wince. But this fanfare has been on a Hollywood Bowl scale that does Grossman, who has proved himself in the past to be a wise and talented writer, no favours at all. ‘To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human ...

In the Ice-Box

Janette Turner Hospital, 12 January 1995

The Book of Intimate Grammar 
by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 0 224 03285 2
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... as pain, as malformation, as stunted growth. In this novel, as in his earlier See Under: Love, David Grossman reveals himself as a compassionate epidemiologist for those who experience history as inexorably degenerative disease, for lives which might be said to suffer from history as claustrophobia. For Grossman in ...

You are terrorists, we are virtuous

Yitzhak Laor: The IDF, 17 August 2006

... grow accustomed from childhood: the most menacing army in the region is described here as if it is David against an Arab Goliath. Yet the Jewish Goliath has sent Lebanon back 20 years, and Israelis themselves even further: we now appear to be a lynch-mob culture, glued to our televisions, incited by a premier whose ‘leadership’ is being launched and ...

The Geneva Bubble

Ilan Pappe: The prehistory of the latest proposals, 8 January 2004

... the Oslo Accord suggest that much the same sort of thing was said there, while leaks from the Camp David summit in 2000 describe similar exchanges between Clinton, Barak and Arafat. In fact, the Israeli tone and attitude have barely changed since British despair led to the Palestine question being transferred to the UN at the end of the Second World War. The ...

Naming the flowers

Robert Alter, 24 February 1994

A History of the Hebrew Language 
by Angel Sáenz-Badillos, translated by John Elwolde.
Cambridge, 371 pp., £24.95, December 1993, 0 521 43157 3
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Language in Time of Revolution 
by Benjamin Harshav.
California, 234 pp., £19.95, September 1993, 0 520 07958 2
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... to choose a page of Hebrew prose from one of the new Israeli novelists such as Meir Shalev and David Grossman, however, one would be more likely to encounter dense constellations of idioms, peculiar lexical usages and allusive resonances that are distinctively Hebrew, many going back to the Bible and the language of the early rabbis. Such a restless ...

Covid-19 in the Time of Netanyahu

Yonatan Mendel: Bibi has done it again, 7 May 2020

... government.’ The media rallied to his call, and so did less likely allies. The novelist David Grossman went on TV to urge a ‘unity government’ of Likud and Blue and White. ‘Hatred will wait for better days … we need an emergency unity government now,’ Aviv Geffen, a rock star and once a leading peace activist, said in an op-ed. Even ...

Israel’s Putinisation

Adam Shatz: Israel’s Putinisation, 18 February 2016

... Hours after the 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 ...


Yonatan Mendel: How to Become an Israeli Journalist, 6 March 2008

... but no president of Palestine. ‘A society in crisis forges a new vocabulary for itself,’ David Grossman wrote in The Yellow Wind, ‘and gradually, a new language emerges whose words . . . no longer describe reality, but attempt, instead, to conceal it.’ This ‘new language’ was adopted voluntarily by the media, but if one needs an ...

Good Day, Comrade Shtrum

John Lanchester: Vasily Grossman’s Masterpiece, 18 October 2007

Life and Fate 
by Vasily Grossman, translated by Robert Chandler.
Vintage, 864 pp., £9.99, October 2006, 0 09 950616 5
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... not least those who write in a personal voice which is in itself a variety of pastiche. Vasily Grossman’s masterpiece Life and Fate is fascinating for many reasons, and one of them is the way that it is both a pastiche and a personal statement; a conscious, cold-blooded attempt to sum up everything Grossman knew about ...


Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... Peter Porter, Martin Amis, the American cartoonist Art Spiegelman and the Soviet dissident Vasily Grossman are among the many who have done so for the Holocaust although none was ever an inmate of the camps. Of the four, Grossman came closest: born in 1905, a Jew, he spent the war as a reporter, and wrote what is said to ...

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