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on 9 June 2003
This is like no other of Amos Oz's novels. Written largely in verse which Nicholas De Lange has faithfully translated and perhaps struggled to reproduce as poetry. The novel describes the sense of loss by each of characters. Father and Son; Mother and Son; Husband and Wife; Lovers; and so on. It is a delicate and slight tale with an abundance of Biblical and literary allusion. Oz even manages to find a place for himself as a character and artfully plays with the reader whilst maintaining the integrity of novel. Perhaps not his greatest - for me "To Know a Woman" handles many of the same issues with less contrivance. Recommended to those already familiar with Oz's output.
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Amos Oz,s new novel is a thoroughly spellbinding and entrancing blend of poetry and prose that refreshingly breaks out of the chains of conventional novelistic form . The writing shifts seamlessly between prose , prose poetry and lyrical poetry resembling the seductive undulations of the sea . The sea is the centre of gravity of this fine work , as well as being its underpinning voice . While the voices of the various characters in the book twist and turn and come and go , the sea is
always there ; always the same sea . Grief and loss are the dominant themes that permeate the many layers of this novel and are at the same time emblematic of the Middle East peace process . In a crucial sense , this is a post conflict novel about the intense inimacy that can develop between strangers who relinquish the need to have control . The novel beseeches listening rather than talking . It is a meditative act of listening to the sea of voices that are constantly competing with each other for supremacy . The net effect of this is the growing awareness that although on the surface people are different in many respects , at bottom people are the same . They have the same secrets . They have the same fears . And the same hopes . The novel has a mesmeric musical quality and indeed it progresses in the manner of a madrigal or a suite . Throughout the work , the writing is compessed and spare achieving the precision of music and poetry . The novel is essentially a choir of voices that sing in various keys and tones and moods , and sing sometimes at the same time and sometimes alone . What emerges is something intensely mystical and intensely spiritual . The book is challenging at times but it more than repays the effort that is sometimes required . A very enjoyable and enriching book that is beautifully crafted and well translated .
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on 18 October 2010
Amos returned to form with this one. Brilliantly rotating the narrative from one inter-connected protagonist to another, he brings these characters to life with an intensity. Tel-Avivis made real with depth.
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