A classic, full of sharp descriptions of life in Palestine and Israel today, urgent in its insistence that peace can come...

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TO THE END OF THE LAND

A provocative antiwar novel by one of Israel’s best-known writers (See Under: Love, 1989, etc.).

If Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a post-apocalyptic journey across a ruined landscape, Grossman’s latest describes a walkabout across forbidding country that is ever in danger of being consumed by war. Ora and Avram meet in a hospital at the time of the Six-Day War, speaking back and forth across fever dreams: “We’re the last ones left from the plague,” says Ora, still not sure why sirens and artillery shells are the music of their night. Avram disappears into the maw of another war, when, captured and tortured, he returns unable to connect with the past and the people he has known and loved; Ora, for her part, marries a mutual friend and has a son, Ofer, who, decades later, is called up to serve in yet another war. Unable to bear the thought of losing her boy to the unending conflict—a loss that Grossman himself suffered as he was writing the book—Ora leaves home, locates Avram in his Galilean hermitage, and sets out on a journey (“which she was still calling a hike,” at least at the beginning) crisscrossing Israel with two purposes in mind: to weave a protective armor of words around Ofer, and to keep herself one step ahead of the soldiers who inevitably will come to her door to announce that he has died. Grossman’s characters define the limits of human endurance and of language. Through conversation that takes them across generations and ethnicities, each discovers something about the other, and each, it seems, becomes less inclined to accept the old way of accomplishing aims through violence and terror, through “the many and varied dangers from which they could no longer protect their sons.”

A classic, full of sharp descriptions of life in Palestine and Israel today, urgent in its insistence that peace can come through sharing stories and the time required to tell them.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-307-59297-2

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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