In the village of Tel Ilan, something is off kilter. An elderly man complains to his daughter that he hears the sound of digging under his house at night. Could it be his tenant, a young Arab? But then the tenant hears the mysterious digging sounds too. The mayor receives a note from his wife: "Don't worry about me." He looks all over, no sign of her. The veneer of new wealth around the village - gourmet restaurants and art galleries, a winery - cannot conceal abandoned outbuildings, disused air raid shelters, rusting farm tools, and trucks left wherever they stopped.
Amos Oz's novel-in-stories is a brilliant, unsettling glimpse of what goes on beneath the surface of everyday life. Scenes from Village Life is a parable for Israel, and for all of us.
The stranger was not quite a stranger. Something in his appearance repelled and yet fascinated Arieh Zelnik from first glance, if it really was the first glance: he felt he remembered that face, the arms that came down nearly to the knees, but vaguely, as though from a lifetime ago.
The man parked his car right in front of the gate. It was a dusty, beige car, with a motley patchwork of stickers on the rear window and even on the side windows: a varied collection of declarations, warnings, slogans and exclamation marks. He locked the car, rattling each door vigorously to make sure they were all properly shut. Then he patted the hood lightly once or twice, as though the car were an old horse that you tethered to the gatepost and patted affectionately to let him know he wouldn't have long to wait. Then the man pushed the gate open and strode toward the vine-shaded front veranda. He moved in a jerky, almost painful way, as if walking on hot sand.
From his swing seat in a ...
While initially these stories seem to be very much about Israeli life and culture, in fact, they are so much more. They speak of relationships each one of us wrestles with at some time - with ourselves, with the land, and with mortality (to name a few). Each one is achingly evocative and haunting, and though all the stories stand alone, main characters in one sometimes appear in the background of another; the idea being that no matter how solitary our lives may seem at times, we are a part of others' narratives as well - past, present, and future.
(Reviewed by BJ Nathan Hegedus).
Full Review (1235 words).
In the story "Strangers," two characters have a discussion about how writers choose their subject matter. "There are some subjects and motifs that a writer comes back to again and again because apparently they come from the root of his being."
There is nothing more true that could be said about Amos Oz, Israel's best known novelist and journalist. Having written over 20 books and 450 articles, his work has sought to define aspects of Israeli life. He is considered one of Israel's most influential and well-regarded intellects.
Born Amos Klausner in Jerusalem in 1939, his parents were right-wing Zionists who had recently immigrated from Eastern Europe. His father, Yehuda Arieh Klausner, was a librarian and a scholar, and his mother...
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