Six Israeli Novellas

Six Israeli Novellas

Six Israeli Novellas

Six Israeli Novellas


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."


Gershon Shaked

THESE SIX NOVELLAS, published between the mid 1960s and the late 1980s, were selected from a large number of works and authors. A previous collection, Eight Great Hebrew Novels (NAL, 1983), which I edited withAlan Lelchuk, featured works by Amos Oz,A. B. Yehoshua , and Yehoshua Kenaz, and so I chose not to include these authors in the present volume.Translation difficulties, the length and diversity of certain works, and their accessibility to foreign readers also affected the selection; a number of important writers, whose stature would otherwise dictate their inclusion, had to be omitted for these reasons.

As for the six authors who are represented here, I believe they show modern Israeli fiction at its richest and most diversified.The modern Israeli novella is not confined to a single literary school or style, but rather extends across a broad spectrum: from the fantastic expressionism of Yehudit Hendel to Ruth Almog's lyrical impressionism and Aharon Appelfeld's symbolist impressionism; from the neorealism of David Grossman and Benjamin Tammuz to the fantastic realism of Yaakov Shabtai.

While to some extent the same claim could be made for any major national literature, the diversity of Israeli fiction is interesting in that so much of it derives from a particular duality: on the . . .

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