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4.3 out of 5 stars
To The End of the Land
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2012
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. I think it may be one of the finest books out of thousands of novels that I have read in the last 20 years. It is a good or better than Franzen or Rushdie and there is no British writer who can compete in this league. Grossman's understanding of the working of our most profound relationships cannot be matched. He deserves a Nobel for work of this quality. It must become a classic. With the passing of Bellow and the decline of Roth this is simply the best writing that you could find.To The End of the Land
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 18 February 2011
Funny how one comes to a book. I was idly listening to talk radio one day and the presenter mentioned this book, saying that although it was January he had a contender for book of the year. I was intrigued enough to download it as soon as I got home and began to read it shortly thereafter.

It starts slowly but after a while you are gripped by the beauty of the writing and the careful way the author describes mostly inner thoughts and feelings. I often marvelled at his powers of observation and description which almost compelled me to try to be more observant and aware in my own life. It was almost like he had a movie of the action/narrative and he could replay it over and over, noting any-and everything.

For a while, in certain parts, I wavered between wondering whether the writing was veering to pretentiousness or was just brilliant, and maybe there were some over the top descriptions but that was totally eclipsed by everything else.

This is my first 'review'; and I wanted to write it not because I have anything profound to say about the book but because I just want people to try it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 January 2012
What a brilliant novel this was. It starts off in a kind of intense way depicting the gloom and insanity of the heroes' captivity but stay with it as it unfolds into an incredible story, told in a unique way through the path of a woman in despair or rather in search for hope. for me, a novel similar to great works of literature. Grossman works on so many levels, his writing and characters get under your skin and stay with you long after you've finished the book. Their feelings, relationships, fears and thoughts are so guilt-free human. If you want to be carried away and overwhelmed look no further.
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on 20 January 2015
Who is Ora? Ora is a mother of two boys-barely-men, Adam and Ofer, growing up in the modern Israel, torn, shaped and re-shaped by its many conflicts, enlisted for the Israeli army to serve the country, which deep inside they don't seem to care for so much. And Ora is their Mum who embarks on a month-long hiking, running away from the 'notifiers' whom she expects to bring her news of her younger son's death. As if this could prevent it...

She drag's along her best friend, soul-mate and ex-lover, whom she tells the stories of the lives of Adam and Ofer, un-organised, haphasard, un-chronological, skipping back and forth (how else would you even try to tell someone's entire life?). Altogether however the stories create penetratingly complete curricula of Ofer and Adam, and then of Avram and Ilan (Ora's husband and Avram's best friend) composing testimonies of the Israeli reality. But most of all, for a decidedly anti-war mother of two young boys as I am, Mr Grossman tells the story of Ora-the-mother, her love, her struggle, her loneliness, her despair, her fears, and her helplessness and feeling of failure at the realisation that her 'little boys' are ready to hurt others...

Through the stories told, we also get the painful picture of modern Israel, the curriculum of a country at unrest, with its own tragic history and entwined in hopeless conflicts with its Arab neighbours and their own Arab people. On a daily basis, both sides try to live their lives as normal as possible, greeting each other, helping each other (to the levels of absurd sometimes) as people do. At the same time, both sides, the same people, become suddenly first of all Israelis and Arabs, both ready to commit the greatest atrocities against fellow human beings and the tension is felt in every encounter.

This is book for which you will need a lot of patience. The narrative is very slow, so detailed that you cannot not be there with Ora and Avram, in the places, with the people and in the situations presented. Every detail is described like in some kind of didascaliae of life. Strangely enough, I never had a temptation to skim a passage here or there - of fear that I will miss out on something important. It all felt important. Just bear in mind you will not be taken by the story or turning pages in anticipation, and there is no climax. This a feast, not a fast food. Enjoy it wisely!
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on 28 September 2014
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. Avram, the passionate short, ugly (by his own assessment) and articulate one falls passionately in love with Ora and remains throughout his life. llan, the other boy is good looking and clever and seems, to Avram, to be a rival. The first part of the story is told mainly through conversations between the three of them. Through these we get to know what an unusual, thoughtful and witty person Avram is. Ilana at this stage is not fleshed out.

The book then jumps forwards about 30 years when Ora is taking her son Ofer to join the army. It appears that she has been married to Ilan and that the have now separated . Ilan has gone travelling with her other son,Adam in South America. Ora is so worried that her son will be killed in combat that she decides to leave the house and go walking believing, or wanting to believe, that if she is not at home to receive the messages that her son has been killed then she can prevent him from being killed. She picks up Avram and together they walk through the land of Israel and through their conversation we find out how these three people' s lives panned out, how their relationships developed and were broken and how Ofra's family grew up.

The war is always in the background as a constant source of fear , whether for the enlisted males or for the family during the suicide bombings and even at one stage as an obsession of Ofer when he was a small boy who believed that "they" wanted to kill him. The complicated relationship between Israel and it's enemies is illustrated in the beginning of the book when Ofra uses an Arab driver. whom she knows well, to take her son to the army not realising, at first, how tactless this is.

The story telling is disjointed and random. Ofra tells Avram stories in, what seems , no particular order. Revelations as to how their relationships changed are told through episodes that are interspersed with anecdotes, jokes and long descriptions about the children's' childhood and upbringing. This makes the book difficult to read. I was not compelled to read on as I knew that as soon as I got to an exciting or revolutionary bit the story would jump before I had fully understood what had happened. It was like a party with a lot of delicious pre dinner canapés , wonderful to eat but ultimately not satisfying.

Grossman's ability to describe subtle relationships is superb. In a scene when the family goes out for dinner he describes how Ofra in a family of men fells that she has the responsibility for making everything OK. Having sons myself I recognised the ways in which the males gang up against the mother albeit in a humorous affectionate way and the expect her to make everything alright. Also, the changing relationship between the mother and sons as they grow up and away is told with insight and poignancy . Ofra tries to understand what has happened to her and her family through detailed telling of events in their lives and Avram listens with intense interest wanting all the tiny details.

Although many of the scenes of family life were gems that warrant savouring and rereading the book left so much of the story hanging in midair that none felt constantly dissatisfied.
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on 26 November 2011
It is until I finally come and study in Israel that I begin to read books of David Grossman among other contemporary Israeli novelists. I echo with many other reviewers that the emotions in this book, To the End of the Land, are very strong and penetrating. But it is the sense of being relevant that shakes my heart all the way through my reading. David Grossman, using such an intimate perspective of a mother remembering and reflecting on his son's growth, shows how tragedies and sorrows can be so tangible and close. Sorrow is an abstract concept; yet Grossman is able to break down the abstractness and map it into everyday details. The more you read, the more you are adapted to the family life of theirs and the more your mind is entangled with their tensions and struggles. The suffocating silence at the end of the book is overwhelming. I no longer pray for Ofer to come back - how many other innocent families are still staying in the bubble of peaceful life until the day comes to break their fragile happiness?
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on 29 August 2011
it took me a little while to get into this book first time i read it - probably just down to one of those occasions when you start a book when you're not quite ready. but once the walk between two of the main protagaonists began i was totally hooked. i couldn't stop reading it from then on, and immediately began it again once i had finished it knowing that in my rush to find out the denoument i had missed some of the connections that make this book a multi layered and faceted work of genius. the second reading humbled me even more - beautiful evocations of all sort of human relationships that work through the politics of the region in a polemical but not strident way. everyone who has a passing interest in politics in the middle east should read this book. everyone who has a staked interest in humanity should read this book. everyone should read this book.
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on 27 August 2015
This book has had incredible national and international reviews and they are all right and I shall not try to better them - This IS an extraordinary tale of art that becomes real life that becomes art - about a mother in Israel who instead of waiting at home for her son to return from the Army, runs away because that way, she reasons, if she is not there, they [the 'Angels of Death'] cannot visit to bring her the news... and so he will not die ....

This book is for all of you who have lost or feared to lose their child/children, or even if you never have -The way this tale is woven and the language used is extraordinary and graceful. And the book lasts a long time as it is just so powerful, it needs breaks....
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2010
I could never imagine that a Man, not a Woman could write such Thing. About motherhood, brotherhood and friendship. Sitting at night on the stairs, thinking of my two sons sleeping in their beds, reading what Ora(Grossman) saying about Ofer and Adam I was sobbing for all mothers and fathers in the universe it seems, this book made me cry a lot! I realized why..at the end i have found that Grossman's son, Uri, was killed in 2006 in the final hours of the Second Lebanon War and all became clear for me..David Grossman himself have been at the end of the Land, all words from this book are pure and real, came from his sad deep heart, but through pain sun shines as well, its memory, its respect, admiration for all our loved ones

in times such as ours..those who have kids..must read

With great respect to Uri and David Grossman
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on 17 October 2014
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 the conflicts within the country and it's people. Not a page turner, but a long and thoughtful and thought provoking tale written beautifully and movingly. It will stay with me and the reading of it is almost a physical experience!
Highly recommended!
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