Magazine article Tablet Magazine

A Tale of Love and Heartbreak in the Life and Work of Amos Oz

Magazine article Tablet Magazine

A Tale of Love and Heartbreak in the Life and Work of Amos Oz

Article excerpt

It's tempting to say that with the death of Amos Oz this morning at the age of 79, an era in Israeli history has ended. After all, Oz was the preeminent writer of the first Israeli generation to come of age after statehood. He was 9 years old in 1948 when the State of Israel was created, and he spent a lifetime writing about its people, its politics, and its institutions. His was the early Israel of Labor Zionism, sabras, and kibbutzim; many of his books explored the complexities of kibbutz life, starting with his debut, Where the Jackals Howl, in 1965. That Israel, of course, began to disappear long ago, and today it survives primarily as a myth. The death of Oz confirms rather than announces its passing.

Yet the fact is that Oz was only able to become the fictional chronicler of that Israel because he was not really a native of it. On the contrary, as he revealed in his great memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness, his actual upbringing was the opposite of the Zionist ideal in every respect. …

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