Jul

18

Israeli writer David GrossmanIf it as good as they say…

From Tyler Cowen at marginal revolution:

"David Grossman, the well-known Israeli writer, has a new book coming out this September, namely To the End of the Land (pre-order at that link). The basic plotline is of a mother who sets out on a wander through the Galilee, with a former lover, to avoid any news of her son's possible death on the front in Lebanon.Has any book received better blurbs? Nicole Krauss blurbs that Grossman "may be the most gifted writer I've ever read"; Paul Auster compares the book to Madame Bovary or Anna Karenina.

Here is a discussion of whether the blurbs for the book are overwrought. Yet it has received amazing reviews in Israel. It has won a German book prize. It was strongly recommended to me in two German bookstores, by sales clerks. Grossman himself seems to realize how good the book is.

Here is an interview with Grossman. I am on p.100 of about 700 pp., and while the book develops slowly, I am not ready to reject the extreme claims made on its behalf. I am sad when it comes time to put it down. Have any of you read it? Heard credible accounts of its quality?"

Stefan Jovanovich writes: 

Grossman has a wonderful phrase– "the acuteness of life" — to describe what it is like to live in a world where it is commonplace for parents to lose children. The more one reads about the Revolutionary War period in America the more one has a sense of how much those people had in common with Israelis. We now have the luxury of knowing how the story would turn out; the original Americans didn't. For a decade they got to watch children die every day while the war for independence and freedom ground on. There was one great difference: after 1788 at least we Americans had the reassurance that the French marines were off-shore waiting to land. Who, if anyone, is waiting to come to Israel's aid? Alas, Grossman himself still has the atheist illusion that somewhere over the rainbow rationality will triumph and the Palestinians will eventually tire of hate. Perhaps; but a more likely future is that nothing will change. Among my grandfather's many misfortunes were his in-laws. Their explanation for all the miseries of the world's history was that "the Yids did it". When I asked him why they thought that, his answer was: "they need that stupid excuse in order to be able to continue to live in misery with one another." They were and are not the only ones. 


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