FIMA by Amos Oz


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 A slyly satiric walking tour through the closing years of Israel's first half-century--as refracted through the mind of an ineffectual, quirky dreamer constitutionally beset by the most mundane details of his daily routine. Efraim Nisan is a middle-aged functionary who nightly records the jarring, revelatory dreams that alternate with a waking life scarcely less dreamlike in its episodic inconclusiveness. Fima has disappointed his father Baruch Nomberg, a right-wing cosmetics manufacturer, by settling for a job as receptionist at a gynecological clinic, and disappointed his ex-wife Yael Levin, an aeronautical researcher, by letting her walk away from their marriage and into the arms of supercilious American Ted Tobias. Fima keeps disappointing himself too on a daily basis. Fascinated by charismatic Uri Gefen, he settles for sleeping with his wife, Nina, who ends each dutiful bout of lovemaking by scrubbing herself, then scrubbing the toilet and sink as well. Drawn to clinic patient Annette Tadmor, he forces himself to listen over coffee and vodka to her litany of marital complaints, only to find that he's equally chagrined whether or not they end up in bed. Fima can't even kill a cockroach without being forestalled by its reflection of the vilified Jewish people. Drifting through the streets of Jerusalem convening his own imaginary cabinet meetings to solve the nation's political and moral problems, he's most satisfied only when he's playing with Dimi Tobias, Yael's ten-year-old son. All Fima's dissatisfied longings come to a head in a magical, climactic epiphany on a Friday afternoon ramble through Jerusalem and its sequel, which shows Fima finally coming to terms with his status as a present-day Wandering Jew. Deeply, sweetly comic in the manner of Gogol. Essayist and novelist Oz (To Know a Woman, 1991, etc.) has never focused such large matters so adroitly on such a delicate fulcrum--or created a more endearing hero.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-15-189851-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993


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