Jokes, his­tory and haunted souls

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

HERE’S HOW The JC re­viewed David Gross­man’s and Amos Oz’s nov­els when they were pub­lished last year:

Gross­man’s new novel was “a bravura per­for­mance”, wrote Stod­dard Martin. “He presents in con­tin­u­ous nar­ra­tive the mono­logue of a standup co­me­dian on a hot sum­mer night in Ne­tanya. There are jokes, but the process here may be ther­apy as well as en­ter­tain­ment. The co­me­dian’s ‘act’ is his life story” in­clud­ing “failed mar­riages and lost chil­dren.

“This re­mark­able book, ren­dered into English by Gross­man’s vet­eran trans­la­tor Jessica Co­hen, teases the reader as nakedly as the co­me­dian does his crowd… we en­counter an im­plied in­vi­ta­tion to set the book down but the per­former’s strug­gle to muf­fle and at the same time re­lease the howls from his soul is too pro­foundly haunt­ing.”

In Ju­das, set in Is­rael in 1959-60, a dropout stu­dent moves in with a dis­abled in­tel­lec­tual and his daugh­ter-in-law. David Her­man wrote: “Ju­das is partly about three in­tense peo­ple who briefly come to­gether. But it’s re­ally a novel of ideas and his­tory, re­lated to the Jewish past and the early state of Is­rael. The ques­tion is whether… the novel is too ab­stract or will read­ers be haunted by the mys­te­ri­ous and beau­ti­ful Atalia and the two bril­liant men she lives with?”

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