Hello, readers! Welcome to another #5OnMyTBR update. The rule is relatively simple. I just have to pick five books from my to-be-read pile that fit the week’s theme.
As there is still no fresh prompt until now, I am taking the liberty to do my own topics. For August, I embarked on a literary journey across Asia. Apart from Japan, my exploration of Asian literature is paltry at best. As such, I have been featuring works of Asian literature I have added to my growing reading list. For this week, I am featuring works of Israeli literature. I can’t even name an Israeli writer at the top of my head. Here are works of Israel literature I can’t wait to immerse myself in. Happy Monday and happy reading!
Author: Amos Oz
Translator: Nicholas de Lange
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt
Publishing Date: 2016
No. of Pages: 305
Synopsis: Jerusalem, 1959. Shmuel Ash, a biblical scholar, is adrift in his young life when he finds work as a caregiver for a brilliant but cantankerous old man named Gershom Wald. There is, however, a third, mysterious presence in his new home. Atalia Abravanel, the daughter of a deceased Zionist leader, a beautiful woman in her forties, entrances young Shmuel even as she keeps him at a distance. Piece by piece, the old Jerusalem stone house, haunted by tragic history and now home o the three misfits and their intricate relationship, reveals its secrets.
At once an exquisite love story and a coming-of-age novel, Judas offers an illuminating perspective on the state of Israel and the biblical tale from which it draws its title.
Title: To the End of the Land
Author: David Grossman
Synopsis: From one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers comes a novel of extraordinary power about family life—the greatest human drama—and the cost of war.
Ora, a middle-aged Israeli mother, is on the verge of celebrating her son Ofer’s release from army service when he returns to the front for a major offensive. In a fit of preemptive grief and magical thinking, she sets out for a hike in the Galilee, leaving no forwarding information for the “notifiers” who might darken her door with the worst possible news. Recently estranged from her husband, Ilan, she drags along an unlikely companion: their former best friend and her former lover Avram, once a brilliant artistic spirit. Avram served in the army alongside Ilan when they were young, but their lives were forever changed one weekend when the two jokingly had Ora draw lots to see which of them would get the few days’ leave being offered by their commander—a chance act that sent Avram into Egpyt and the Yom Kippur War, where he was brutally tortured as POW.
In the aftermath, a virtual hermit, he refused to keep in touch with the family and has never met the boy. Now, as Ora and Avram sleep out in the hills, ford rivers, and cross valleys, avoiding all news from the front, she gives him the gift of Ofer, word by word; she supplies the whole story of her motherhood, a retelling that keeps Ofer very much alive for Ora and for the reader, and opens Avram to human bonds undreamed of in his broken world. Their walk has a “war and peace” rhythm, as their conversation places the most hideous trials of war next to the joys and anguish of raising children. Never have we seen so clearly the reality and surreality of daily life in Israel, the currents of ambivalence about war within one household, and the burdens that fall on each generation anew.
Grossman’s rich imagining of a family in love and crisis makes for one of the great antiwar novels of our time. (Source: Goodreads)
Author: Eshkol Nevo
Synopsis: This heart-warming, charming and clever first novel dips into the lives of each of the inhabitants of a village in Israel.
It is 1995 and Noa and Amir, a student couple, have decided to move in together. Noa is studying photography in Jerusalem and Amir is a psychology student in Tel Aviv. They choose a small apartment in a village in the hills, midway between the two cities.
Originally called El-Kastel, the village was emptied of its Arab inhabitants in 1948 and is now the home of Jewish immigrants from Kurdistan. Not far from the apartment lives a family grieving for their eldest son who was killed in Lebanon. The younger brother left behind, Yotam, forgotten by his parents, turns to Amir for support.
Further down the street, Saddiq watches the house while he works at a building site. He knows that this house is the one from which his family was driven by the Jews when he was a boy, and to which his mother still has a rusty key. Despite friendships that develop and lives that become entwined, tensions among this melting pot of characters seem to be rising to the surface.
This enchanting and irresistible novel offers us windows into the characters’ lives. Each comes from somewhere different but we gradually see that there’s much about them that’s the same. Homesick is a beautiful and moving story about history, love, family and the true meaning of home. (Source: Goodreads)
Author: Leon Uris
Synopsis: Exodus is an international publishing phenomenon–the towering novel of the twentieth century’s most dramatic geopolitical event. Leon Uris magnificently portrays the birth of a new nation in the midst of enemies–the beginning of an earthshaking struggle for power. Here is the tale that swept the world with its fury: the story of an American nurse, an Israeli freedom fighter caught up in a glorious, heartbreaking, triumphant era. (Source: Goodreads)
Title: Four Meals
Author: Meir Shalev
Synopsis: From the author of the critically acclaimed A Pigeon and a Boy, the extraordinary story of Zayde, his enigmatic mother Judith, and her three loversWhen Judith arrives in a small, rural village in Palestine in the early 1930s, three men compete for her attention: Globerman, the cunning, coarse cattle-dealer who loves women, money, and flesh; Jacob, owner of hundreds of canaries and host to the four meals which lend the book its narrative structure; and Moshe, a widowed farmer obsessed with his dead wife and his lost braid of hair which his mother cut off in childhood. During the four meals, which take place over several decades, Zayde slowly comes to understand why these three men consider him their son and why all three participate in raising him. A virtuoso performance of spellbinding storytelling, this is a deeply satisfying read—sensuous, hilarious, compassionate, and profound. (Source: Goodreads)
Title: All the Rivers
Author: Dorit Rabinyan
Synopsis: A controversial, award-winning story about the passionate but untenable affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, from one of Israel’s most acclaimed novelists
When Liat meets Hilmi on a blustery autumn afternoon in Greenwich Village, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Charismatic and handsome, Hilmi is a talented young artist from Palestine. Liat, an aspiring translation student, plans to return to Israel the following summer. Despite knowing that their love can be only temporary, that it can exist only away from their conflicted homeland, Liat lets herself be enraptured by Hilmi: by his lively imagination, by his beautiful hands and wise eyes, by his sweetness and devotion.
Together they explore the city, sharing laughs and fantasies and pangs of homesickness. But the unfettered joy they awaken in each other cannot overcome the guilt Liat feels for hiding him from her family in Israel and her Jewish friends in New York. As her departure date looms and her love for Hilmi deepens, Liat must decide whether she is willing to risk alienating her family, her community, and her sense of self for the love of one man.
Banned from classrooms by Israel’s Ministry of Education, Dorit Rabinyan’s remarkable novel contains multitudes. A bold portrayal of the strains—and delights—of a forbidden relationship, All the Rivers (published in Israel as Borderline) is a love story and a war story, a New York story and a Middle East story, an unflinching foray into the forces that bind us and divide us. “The land is the same land,” Hilmi reminds Liat. “In the end all the rivers flow into the same sea.” (Source: Goodreads)