Review: A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz | Books | The GuardianThe book has been translated into 28 languages and over a million copies have been sold worldwide. In , a bootleg Kurdish translation was found in a bookstore in northern Iraq. Oz was reportedly delighted. The book documents much of Oz's early life, and includes a family history researched by an uncle of his father. It describes a number of events he previously hadn't communicated. For example, before writing the book, Oz had avoided discussing his mother's suicide with his father, or writing publicly about it. Oz chronicles his childhood in Jerusalem in the last years of the British Mandate for Palestine and the early years of the State of Israel.
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Some are lions of the Zionist movement—David Ben-Gurion before whom a young Oz made a terrifying command appearance , novelist S. 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 s 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 s. 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 was
Some time in the night between Saturday and Sunday the fifth and sixth of January, , Amos Oz's mother ended her life in her sister's flat on Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, overdosing on medication prescribed to treat her depression. In the newspapers, a debate was raging about whether Israel should demand and accept reparations from Germany. The pragmatic left thought that Germany should pay the cost that Israel would have to bear to absorb the survivors, while the right declared it was immoral to sell absolution in exchange for tainted lucre. A couple of years later, Oz, by then 15, broke with his right-wing father and went, by himself, to live on a kibbutz. Oz's memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, thought to be the biggest-selling literary work in Israeli history, is an exploration of why his mother killed herself, and the effect on him, a sensitive, intelligent boy growing up in Jerusalem during the last years of the British mandate and the war of independence. It is one of the funniest, most tragic and most touching books I have ever read. I am a great admirer of Oz as a novelist, of his spare, quiet portraits of intimacy between couples, but here, in this long book, he reveals a huge talent for the big narrative picture, for Dickensian character portraits and an expert fusion of history and personal life.
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Amazon wishlist. Our Assessment: A : effective if roundabout memoir. Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review 's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure. The complete review 's Review :. Amos Oz's memoir is a somewhat disjointed, rambling affair -- but in the best possible way.