As much memoir as fiction, this 1998 novel by a highly regarded contemporary Israeli writer charts a young writer's progress through the worlds of his childhood and his family's cherished memories and traditions to his emergence as a published novelist. Protagonist Haim Be'er himself offers crisp characterizations of his doting grandmother (a loquacious repository of legends and stories learned in the European shtetls), "independent" (and often impatient) mother, and passive father, a perpetually traumatized survivor of Russian pogroms. There are detailed allusions to Be'er's (as yet untranslated) earlier works, along with discursive analyses of the natures of memory and creativity. But it's also filled with vivid domestic episodes, brisk dialogue, and a moving appreciation of the mixed need to emerge from, and still belong to, the worlds of one's fathers and mothers.
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