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Nicholas Spice, 4 September 1986

A Simple Story 
by S.Y. Agnon, translated by Hillel Halkin.
246 pp., £13.10, March 1986, 0 8052 3999 5
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At the Handles of the Lock: Themes in the Fiction of S.Y. Agnon 
by David Aberbach.
Oxford, 221 pp., £18, November 1984, 0 19 710040 6
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Snakewrist 
by Christopher Burns.
Cape, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 224 02351 9
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... Dr Langsam (Dr Slowly). In his excellent short essay on A Simple Story appended to this edition, Hillel Halkin points out that Szybusz echoes shibush, the Hebrew word for ‘muddle’ or ‘error’. Agnon’s own name is rich in suggestion. To an English ear it seems to combine the words ‘agony’ and ‘anon’, with a hint of ‘agnostic’. It may ...

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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... Of all the raw deals meted out in the Bible – not excluding Job’s or that blighted fig tree’s – Moses surely suffered the meanest. After all he had gone through for Yaweh and the Chosen People, his exclusion from the Promised Land within sight of it was cruelly unfair. Or so it seemed to my child’s mind, as repeatedly in Scripture classes and Sunday school we rehearsed the story of the Exodus, the 40 years wandering in the wilderness and the entry of the Children of Israel into the Land of Canaan ...

Forgetting

Nicholas Spice, 7 February 1985

A Late Divorce 
by A.B. Yehoshua, translated by Hillel Halkin.
Harvill, 352 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 00 271448 5
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Machine Dreams 
by Jayne Anne Phillips.
Faber, 331 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 571 13398 3
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... Anyone who has had experience of the sad and subtle ways in which human beings torment one another under licence of family ties will appreciate the merits of A.B. Yehoshua’s A Late Divorce. The public for the book should therefore be large. Yehoshua is an Israeli writer writing about Israelis (the action of A Late Divorce takes place in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem one spring in the late Seventies), so only those readers with an intimate feeling for life in modern Israel will be able to measure fully the accuracy and depth of the book’s portraiture ...

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