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About this product
- SynopsisWinner of the National Jewish Book Award International Bestseller "[An] ingenious work that circles around the rise of a state, the tragic destiny of a mother, a boy's creation of a new self." - The New Yorker A family saga and a magical self-portrait of a writer who witnessed the birth of a nation and lived through its turbulent history. A Tale of Love and Darkness is the story of a boy who grows up in war-torn Jerusalem, in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives speaking nearly as many. The story of an adolescent whose life has been changed forever by his mother's suicide. The story of a man who leaves the constraints of his family and community to join a kibbutz, change his name, marry, have children. The story of a writer who becomes an active participant in the political life of his nation. "One of the most enchanting and deeply satisfying books that I have read in many years." - New Republic,Winner of the National Jewish Book AwardInternational Bestseller " An] ingenious work that circles around the rise of a state, the tragic destiny of a mother, a boy s creation of a new self." "The New Yorker"A family saga and a magical self-portrait of a writer who witnessed the birth of a nation and lived through its turbulent history. "A Tale of Love and Darkness" is the story of a boy who grows up in war-torn Jerusalem, in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives speaking nearly as many. The story of an adolescent whose life has been changed forever by his mother s suicide. The story of a man who leaves the constraints of his family and community to join a kibbutz, change his name, marry, have children. The story of a writer who becomes an active participant in the political life of his nation."One of the most enchanting and deeply satisfying books that I have read in many years." "New Republic""
- AuthorAmos Oz
- Number Of Pages544 pages
- Publication Date2004-11-15
- PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
- Copyright Date2003
- Original LanguageHebrew
- Weight160.2 Oz
- Height1.5 In.
- Width6 In.
- Length9 In.
- LC Classification NumberPJ5054.O9Z47313 2004
- Dewey Decimal892.4/36
- Dewey Edition22
- Translated byNicholas De Lange,Nicholas de Lange
- Reviews"Touching, haunting, wrenching, amusing, and sometimes downright hilarious...the best book Oz has ever written","[An] indelible memoir",Of all the terrible questions that Alice is asked in Wonderland, the most terrible is puffed out by the hookah-smoking Caterpillar: "Who Are You?" As Alice knows, the question has no answer. The only speck of the world that must remain invisible to us is our self. In our own eyes, we can be nothing but looking-glass images, always plural, the reflections that others send back to us and that we incessantly make ours or reject. An autobiography is therefore at best a kaleidoscopic pattern of imagined memories and intuitive leaps that portrays not one author but several, or at least a protean author moving endlessly between past and present, ignorance and experience, reflection and surprise. As such, the Israeli novelist Amos Oz's autobiography is utterly successful.Both in his fiction and his essays, Oz has proven himself one of our essential writers, laying out for our observation, in ever-increasing breadth and profundity, the mad landscape of our time and his place -- always enlarging the scope of his questions while avoiding the temptation of dogmatic answers. His latest exploration, A Tale of Love and Darkness (beautifully translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange) appears to merely chronicle Oz's life from childhood in British-ruled Jerusalem to literary fame in Kibbutz Hulda, where Oz (born Amos Braz) still lives and where he adopted his nom de plume. But there are no single straight lines in Oz's narratives; for him, all things are plural. The family house where he grew up; the languages spoken by his family; the complex personalities of its members; the books that crowded the shelves of his widely read parents and turned the boy into "a word child"; the recurrent references to his mother and her death when the boy was just 12 (a death that, we learn halfway through the book, was a suicide); the state about to be born in a world still bloody from the war; the crowds of refugees and pioneers and survivors that peopled it; Oz's literary masters, ranging from Chekhov (in Hebrew) to Sherwood Anderson (in English): Every event, every factual detail, every discovery opens myriad doors to other events, facts and unexpected revelations. The writer who attempts his autobiography is, Oz suggests, like a man who "knocks on the door of a house where he is a regular visitor and where he is used to being very warmly received, but when the door opens, a stranger suddenly looks out at him and recoils in surprise, as though asking, Who are you, sir, and why exactly are you here?"I felt an eerie sense of deja vu reading Oz's description of the daily goings-on during the early years of the state of Israel. My father was named Argentina's ambassador to Israel when I was only a few months old, and the first seven years of my life were spent in the same Babel as Oz's, where adults switched to other languages to avoid being understood by the children and where conversation drifted from German to Russian, from Spanish (in my case) or Polish (in Oz's) to French and English and Yiddish, when not to the rigors of Hebrew. The same "scholars, musicians and writers" described by Oz, the same "Tolstoyans" (whom Oz's parents referred to as "Tolstoyshchiks"), the same "cultivated Englishmen with perfect manners," the same "cultured Jews or educated Arabs" glided in and out of my childhood world as they did in Oz's. And of course the same Holocaust survivors, of whom my governess had told me I must never ask anything, especially not the meaning of the black numbers tattooed on their arms, and whose rage was solid, palpable, like that of the old man whom Oz describes hissing words full of hatred at him and his playmates: "A million Kinder they killed! Kiddies like you! Slaughtered them!" -- as though, Oz adds, "he were cursing us."Oz describes what it was (and is) like to live in a country that, since its inception, has been constantly under threat; and he tells of the painful relationship between Arab and Jew.,PRAISE FOR AMOS OZ "A commanding artist who ranks with the most important writers of our time."-Cynthia Ozick PRAISE FOR THE SAME SEA "Impressive and moving . . . Oz tells the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary manner . . . Literature that is both spiritually moving and secularly provocative."-Los Angeles Times Book Review,Starred Review. This memoir/family history brims over with riches: metaphors and poetry, drama and comedy, failure and success, unhappy marriages and a wealth of idiosyncratic characters. Some are lions of the Zionist movement-David Ben-Gurion (before whom a young Oz made a terrifying command appearance), novelist S.Y. Agnon, poet Saul Tchernikhovsky-others just neighbors and family friends, all painted lovingly and with humor. Though set mostly during the author's childhood in Jerusalem of the 1940s and '50s, the tale is epic in scope, following his ancestors back to Odessa and to Rovno in 19th-century Ukraine, and describing the anti-Semitism and Zionist passions that drove them with their families to Palestine in the early 1930s. In a rough, dusty, lower-middle-class suburb of Jerusalem, both of Oz's parents found mainly disappointment: his father, a scholar, failed to attain the academic distinction of his uncle, the noted historian Joseph Klausner. Oz's beautiful, tender mother, after a long depresson, committed suicide when Oz (born in 1939) was 12. By the age of 14, Oz was ready to flee his book-crammed, dreary, claustrophobic flat for the freedom and outdoor life of Kibbutz Hulda. Oz's personal trajectory is set against the background of an embattled Palestine during WWII, the jubilation after the U.N. vote to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state, the violence and deprivations of Israel's war of independence and the months-long Arab siege of Jerusalem. This is a powerful, nimbly constructed saga of a man, a family and a nation forged in the crucible of a difficult, painful history.
Most relevant reviews
- pbs9807 Dec, 2006by
A Tale of Love and Darkness
This is a great book. It will be of particular interest to those who want to learn about the period just before Israel became a state. However, its intricate family dynamics are fascinating to anyone who thinks about his/her family.