EIGHT GREAT HEBREW SHORT NOVELS by Alan & Gershon Shaked--Eds. Lelchuk


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Novelist Lelchuk and Israeli critic Shaked seek here to rehabilitate the image of Hebrew prose--to make it more readily receivable as a part of international literary culture (as is, to some greater degree now, Hebrew poetry). Thus the thrust, editorially, is largely anti-provincial--which explains the inclusion of Facing the Sea by David Fogel (1891-1944), a limp and pallid novella set on the Riviera and peopled with a gaggle of polyglot vacationers. Only slightly more compelling: the Chekhovian blague of Sideways by Uri N. Gnessin (1879-1913); and a rather obvious tale of prodigy, Musical Moment by Joshua Knaz (b. 1937). Ironically, in fact, the strongest, most fascinating work here is the least cosmopolitan fiction--the pieces which are intimately wrapped up with Hebrew/Israeli themes. And only one of these is from a little-known writer: The Vengeance of the Fathers by Itzhak Shami (1899-1949), a novella about an Arab chieftain who is fatally compromised--and one of the most vivid evocations of Arab life in all fiction. The other standouts: S. Y. Agnon's In The Prime Of Her Life (a 1922 piece in its first English translation); Amos Oz's The Hill of Evil Counsel (the title story in a 1978 collection from Harcourt, Brace); and A. B. Yehoshua's A Poet's Continuing Silence (from Three Days and a Child, Doubleday, 1970). Only one impressive surprise, then, and one welcome rediscovery--but, even if this gathering fails to add much to what we know of Israeli fiction, it does bring together four representative highlights in a modestly-priced, solidly introduced package.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1982
Publisher: New American Library