I’ve only read one other book by Oz (Panther in the Basement) but I’m very impressed by him. Israel’s baneful treatment of the Palestinian people, particularly in light of all the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, is one of humanity’s great failures in the 20th century. Oz manages to imbue his fiction with parables of how and why Israel have failed to live peacefully alongside their Levantine neighbours without ever laying the blame, fairly or unfairly so, at anyone’s doorstep. Stories of great personal trauma, of a generation post-independence Israelis struggling to understand their nation’s belligerence towards their Muslim neighbours whilst never questioning that fire can only be fought with fire.
One thing you’ll notice reading this book is that Oz tends to repeat himself, or rather, his characters do. Again and again, they tell the same stories, have the same arguments and complete the same domestic rituals. It’s wonderful prose, written with great humour, of a people seemingly locked in an eternal struggle for survival but the repetitiveness tells its own story. It’s Oz’s tribute to humankind, a celebration of banality, way of showing us that life goes on while the shots echo across no man’s land. If nothing else, I would advise anyone read Oz for the simple truth that you are what you read. If you want a two state solution between Israel and Palestine to remain a mystery, then keep reading thrillers and forget about Oz.
You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries here.