To the End of the Land by David Grossman

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Whatever his character’s skepticism, Grossman’s novel captures the river, the whirlwind, the flame. In its depth and breadth and beauty, it brings to life one woman, her family, her country and the entire tangled web of humanity.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

From one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers comes a novel of extraordinary power about family life—the greatest human drama—and the cost of war.

Ora, a middle-aged Israeli mother, is on the verge of celebrating her son Ofer’s release from army service when he returns to the front for a major offensive. In a fit of preemptive grief and magical thinking, she sets out for a hike in the Galilee, leaving no forwarding information for the “notifiers” who might darken her door with the worst possible news. Recently estranged from her husband, Ilan, she drags along an unlikely companion: their former best friend and her former lover Avram, once a brilliant artistic spirit. Avram served in the army alongside Ilan when they were young, but their lives were forever changed one weekend when the two jokingly had Ora draw lots to see which of them would get the few days’ leave being offered by their commander—a chance act that sent Avram into Egpyt and the Yom Kippur War, where he was brutally tortured as POW. In the aftermath, a virtual hermit, he refused to keep in touch with the family and has never met the boy. Now, as Ora and Avram sleep out in the hills, ford rivers, and cross valleys, avoiding all news from the front, she gives him the gift of Ofer, word by word; she supplies the whole story of her motherhood, a retelling that keeps Ofer very much alive for Ora and for the reader, and opens Avram to human bonds undreamed of in his broken world. Their walk has a “war and peace” rhythm, as their conversation places the most hideous trials of war next to the joys and anguish of raising children. Never have we seen so clearly the reality and surreality of daily life in Israel, the currents of ambivalence about war within one household, and the burdens that fall on each generation anew.

Grossman’s rich imagining of a family in love and crisis makes for one of the great antiwar novels of our time.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About David Grossman

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David Grossman was born in Jerusalem on January 25, 1954, is an Israeli author of fiction, nonfiction, and youth and children's literature. His books have been translated into many languages. He is most known for his non-fiction work, The Yellow Wind. This is his study of the Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. He was awarded the Prime Minister's Prize for Hebrew literature (1984) and the Israeli Publishers Association Prize for best Hebrew novel (1985). Grossman lives in Mevasseret Zion on the outskirts of Jerusalem. He is married to Michal Grossman, a child psychologist and the mother of his three children.
 
Published September 21, 2010 by Vintage. 674 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Ezra Glinter on Oct 08 2010

Whatever his character’s skepticism, Grossman’s novel captures the river, the whirlwind, the flame. In its depth and breadth and beauty, it brings to life one woman, her family, her country and the entire tangled web of humanity.

Read Full Review of To the End of the Land | See more reviews from National Post arts

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