REQUIEM FOR NA'AMAN by Benjamin Tammuz


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A family chronicle: the story of the descendants of Ephraim Abramson, one of the very early Jewish settlers in Israel, an orange grower whose life is plagued with doubts after the disappearance (and suicide) of first wife Bella-Yaffa and--later--of eldest son Na'aman, a musician. But, while these suicides send a flicker of other-worldly despair through the subsequent generations, Tammuz (Minotaur) is more interested in politics than psychology--and this coarsely trimmed novel offers a compressed microcosm of Israel's history. Especially interesting: the depictions of the early and fierce ideological battles between capitalist individualists like Ephraim and kibbutznik socialists typified by his grandson Elyakum; and--limned in the form of a cross-marriage--the tension between Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews in the burgeoning society. The book marches upward through independence, the Six-Day War, the 1973 debacle on Yom Kippur--with Tammuz ever more sourly dismissive of Israeli self-satisfactions, especially the post-1967 idea of Jewish ""destiny."" And though this fiction has little of the storytelling flair of Minotaur (the narration, perhaps due to translation, is often odd or stiff), it's moderately effective as a polemic--against Israel's materialism, its self-shrinking margin for error; so those interested in hearing a voice of discontent from inside Israel may not mind the lack of drama or focus here.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1982
Publisher: New American Library