A Tale of Love and Darkness. Amos Oz.

Oz, Amos. A Tale of Love and Darkness. Translated from Hebrew by Nicholas DeLange. Harcourt Harvest 2003. F; 5/19

I thought this was superior to Oz’s Judas. Here we have essentially an autobiography, detailing the boy’s upbringing by a strongly academic chilly father and a deeply creative but fatally depressed mother who committed suicide. Family members are fascinating and beautifully captured, Oz leaves home in his early teens for years on a kibbutz, and eventually of course becomes a successful fiction writer. All this plays out in Jerusalem during the historic turmoil of early Israel including the War of Independence and other conflicts subsequent.

There is richly Jewish humour about the family and society. Of an uncle:

He was a wonderfully frank man, my great-uncle Joseph, full of self-love and self-pity, vulnerable and craving recognition, brimming with childlike merriment, a happy man who always pretended to be miserable.

and of his fabulously obsessive grandmother:

(This food comes) straight from the hand of that man who may not even have washed and dried his hands after he has excuse me, and how can we be so sure that he’s a healthy man? That he hasn’t got TB or cholera, or typhus or jaundice or dysentery? Or an abscess or enteritis or eczema or psoriasis or impetigo or a boil? He might not even be Jewish.

There were mildly tedious sections but overall captivating, humane, and humorous. Recommended. 7.8/8.4.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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