This is the most ambitious and representative anthology yet published of modern Hebrew novellas, a book that will provide any reader with a fine overview of the best fiction that small but vibrant country has to offer.Included here are novellas by six of Israel's most important and honored contemporary writers. Aharon Appelfeld's "In the Isles of St. George" tells of a fugitive black marketeer hiding on a desolate Italian island, who finds his past, his Jewishness, and his very sense of identity resolved. In "Yani on the Mountain, " David Grossman explores the psychological impact of the 1973 Yom Kippur War on a young generation of Israelis living in a Mount Sinai army base in its final days before demolition. Ruth Almog's "Shrinking" lyrically portrays the loneliness and frustrations of a middle-aged heroine whose longing for human contact is thwarted by her stifling bond to her father.Also included are Yaakov Shabtai's "Uncle Peretz Takes Flight, " a grotesque portrait of one man's cowardice, in the vein of Shalom Aleichem; Yehudit Hendel's "Small Change, " about the interaction between the paranoid experience of an Israeli woman abroad and a complex father-daughter relationship; and Benjamin Tammuz's "My Brother, " in which one brother's selfish conquests are contrasted to the other's passive, but ultimately more sinister, altruism.In the words of editor Gershon Shaked, these novellas "show modern Israeli fiction at its richest and most diversified, with a character all its own."
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What Reviewers Are Saying
A fine collection of long stories written over an approximate quarter-century (1965-89) by several of Israel's most prominent writers. The best known are Aharon Appelfeld, whose "In the Isles of St. George" is another of his several transpositions of the legend of the Wandering Jew (this time in the form of an embattled black marketeer), and David Grossman, whose early (1980) tale, "Yanni on the Mountain," sets a complex array of political and sexual allegiances and betrayals during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Of the writers lesser known here (among them Ruth Almog and Benjamin Tammuz), the standout contributor is Yehudit Handel, whose precise portrayal ("Small Change") of a tradition-burdened woman in thrall to her domineering father, depicts in stunning microcosm the tensions at work in an "old world" stubbornly resistant to change. An attractive volume, and a very rewarding one. (Kirkus Reviews)