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To The End of the Land [Hardcover]

David Grossman
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Sep 2010

Ora, amiddle-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 a 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 daily joys and anguish of raising children. Never have we seen so clearly the reality and surrealityof 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.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (2 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224089994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224089999
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 365,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Very rarely, a few times in a lifetime, you open a book and when you close it again nothing can ever be the same. To the End of the Land is a book of this magnitude. David Grossman may be the most gifted writer I've ever read. To read it is to have yourself taken apart, undone, touched at the place of your own essence; it is to be turned back, as if after a long absence, into a human being (Nicole Krauss)

David Grossman writes with a vulnerability that is free of fear, poetic and powerful, sensual and angry, passionate and gently. He writes not only for his survival but for ours as well. (Die Zeit)

The formative novel of Hebrew literature in the 21st century. No less. Perhaps a lot more (Ariana Melamed YNET)

This is a book of overwhelming power and intensity, David Grossman's masterpiece. Flaubert created his Emma, Tolstoy made his Anna, and now we have Grossman's Ora -- as fully alive, as fully embodied, as any character in recent fiction. I devoured this long novel in a feverish trance. Wrenching, beautiful, unforgettable. (Paul Auster)

There are some writers in whose words one recognizes the texture of life. David Grossman is such a writer. He is a master of the emotionally accurate and significant. His characters don't so much lie on the page as rise before the reader's eyes, in three dimensions, their skin covered in prose that both stabs with insight and shines with compassion. (Yann Martel)

Book Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Anne1
Format:Hardcover
Having just read David Grossman's Someone to Run With, I was excited to see the release of To the End of the Land. There is so much in this book that tries to give a picture of life in Israel/Palestine.

Some of the characters that Grossman does this through are Sami, Ora, Ilan and their two sons Adam and Ofer.

Sami the Israeli Arab taxi driver who over the years has become the only driver Ora the Israeli Jew will have, and who has done them many favours like driving for the family at short notice, and late at night, and having to suffer the humilities of the road block checks along the way, who is, in Ora's words 'like part of the family' suddenly becomes fleshed out during her request that he drive Ora and her son to 'the meetery' (the meeting place for the battalions that will invade Gaza) as Ora's son joins the call-up. As they travel the long journey to the meeting point having no option but to travel with the military convoy. Grossman takes a hard look at Sami and what he must be feeling, and how 'being almost part of the family' is Ora's view but not his felt reality - for the power relations of Jewish Isreali and Muslim Arab Israeli are starkly shown. Particularly moving is the time when he has to take a sick boy to South Tel Aviv for treatment. The boy is dressed in Ora's sons hand me down clothes including and Israeli t-shirt to disguise the fact that he is an illegal immigrant from The Occupied Territories, and Sami is forced to take him to an underground "hospital" which at night occupies a school in total secrecy, and in almost darkness lest they alert people to their presence, it opperates with one or two doctors and little medicine. A parallel world.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grossman excels 7 Oct 2010
By Jan
Format:Hardcover
This is a wonderful book. Although huge it is hard to put down and one is pleased not to have to come to the end for a very long time. Grossman excels in describing the minute details of emotions and sees right into the heart of Ora, the protagonist. It is not so much about Israel; it is about being a mother - about being a human who loves another passionately. I find it hard to believe that a man wrote this book but I ordered it instantly after hearing Grossman being interviewed on the radio. His humanity shines through his every word. He is so compelling and this is also true of this book.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this book will change your life 15 Oct 2010
Format:Hardcover
To the end of the Land - it broke my heart to read it and yet I was so happy reading it and so grateful for the soulful experience I had when doing so.

David Grossman writes with passion, beauty and deep sorrow, evoking the Land of Israel and especially the Upper Gallilee where Ora and Avram flee during the Lebanon War. We learn how stories can keep you alive, and give you the will to carry on living in the face of danger, loss and terror. (Not Terror, which is a strange construct, and not Terrorism), but the terror and the beauty of life lived in a Land always at war. Ora, the archetypal Jewish mother is inspiring and loveable - surely a first in fiction! Grossman understands the minutae of pregnancy, birth and motherhood with a remarkable degree of empathy.

His descriptions of events during the Yom Kippur war are almost unbearable but worth the effort. You are forced to confront the details of war through the eyes of Avram and Ilan, young soldiers in Sinai/Suez in 1973. We learn how the war has shaped them, and the lives of their children ever since.

This may be the most important book I have ever read, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Grossman wins the Nobel Prize for Literature one day soon. A "War and Peace" epic for our time and a powerful anti-war novel that is essential reading.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love, Loss and Family 17 Oct 2010
By J. Coulton VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The fact that is known before you start this novel is that David Grossman's own son was killed fighting in the Israeli army during the writing of it. It is hard to imagine how he endured such personal pain and still managed to write about matters very close to that loss, and so it is important to judge the novel in its own right, rather than through the prism of this tragedy, even though this loss very probably changed it's structure and narrative immensely.

The novel is in part a love triangle between three people. We are introduced to them as children in an isolation hospital in Israel. The girl, Ora, is understandably scared to be in such a lonely place, and is befriended by the charming and sociable Avram. He introduces her to his altogether more withdrawn friend Ilan, but surprisingly it is Ilan that Ora subsequently marries and raises a family with.

The context of the novel, takes place when the three have grown up and faced many challenges, both personal and national, and Ora's youngest son Ofer is about to rejoin the Israeli army, having voluntarily put his name forward for extended service after the period of his conscription is over. The act is seen by his mother as one of defiance and total stupidity. She cannot bear to wait at home and wonder when a knock at the door will bring news of his demise, her husband and eldest son, Adam, having left her, and so she embarks on a journey to escape the bad news she dreads will inevitably come.

She undertakes a journey from her home in Jerusalem to walk across Israel to Galilee, and takes a very reluctant Avram, whom she has not seen for a long time, along with her almost against his will. And it is via the device of Ora recounting her story, and that of her family, to Avram that the novel unfolds.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is an absorbing and sometimes painful read- an amazing...
This book is an absorbing and sometimes painful read- an amazing account of begin a parent and all the joys,difficulties and pain that it involves as well as a story of Israel and... Read more
Published 5 days ago by I Reid
4.0 out of 5 stars ugly (by his own assessment) and articulate one falls passionately in...
To the end of the land is a story about war and about a family. It begins with three teenagers in an isolation hospital during the Six Day War who form a lasting friendship. Read more
Published 24 days ago by MS MAXINE R KLEIN
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful style
I'm enjoying reading this book, although I haven't finish it yet. There are many details which could be avoided. And many unnecessary repeating. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ruhy Khoroushi
5.0 out of 5 stars Grossman's TO the emnd of the LAnd
I bought it to give as a present. It was recommended to me, the friend thought it was a wonderful book. What else can I say?
Published 7 months ago by emell
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the leading novels of the decade
A great novel, foregrounding the price individual Israelis pay for being a part of an insoluble situation, while not neglecting the larger picture. Read more
Published 8 months ago by smadar shiffman
4.0 out of 5 stars Relationships and family bonds
Grossman has a nice way to captivate the reader, to draw the reader into the story, to develop the relationship with all its excesses without overpowering or overbearing. Read more
Published 9 months ago by E.M.B. Lucassen
5.0 out of 5 stars A tip from a friend
A friend of mine gave me this tip. I still must read it but it sure makes me curious, this story. I must say I like the idea: a woman who's son is going to fight in the war and who... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Pierre Brewee
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound
I almost gave up reading this book as the prologue was a little vague & confusing. But I am ecstatic that I did not give it up and continued to read as its proved to be the most... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Amelia Ofori
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Some interesting and well written parts and a lot of slow moving areas with details and names that weren't needed. I didn't like any of the characters. I didn't finish it. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Sheila Stacey
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
As a part time book reviewer I read many books each year but it is rare to come across a book that is quite simply a masterpiece. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Richard
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