THE STORY OF AUNT SHLOMZION THE GREAT by Yoram Kaniuk
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THE STORY OF AUNT SHLOMZION THE GREAT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In Rockinghorse (1977), Kaniuk's alter-ego narrator, Aminadav, studied his own life--to no great effect. Here he reappears and happily trains his attention on someone other than himself: his aunt Shlomzion the Great, named after the wily queen of ancient Judea. Daughter of the infamous Adonsky, a land speculator and swindler, a true pioneer of Israel (if you allow that to mean a man who sold undersized cemetery plots in Jerusalem to European Jews and built up Tel Aviv by sheer avarice), Shlomzion has inherited all her father's worst characteristics; she ""loves herself in Technicolor; she hates the world in black-and-white."" She's capable of killing the family dog or driving her nebbishy husband from the house when he disagrees over what to name their son; she keeps the kid nameless for a year-and-a-half till the father relents. As wife and mother and all-purpose Worst Relative of All Time, she is a spiteful, wealthy, cheap terror of a witch. But in his own perverse way, Aminadav likes her, this evil incarnate who makes everyone miserable. She's sort of a prototypical Israeli of the first generation: ""a sensation of challenge, of obstinate glory, of people who never submit, who persist, even behind prison walls, in enacting their own glorious opera."" Aunt Shlomzion the Great's opera is this whole book, and it's conducted with humor and poetry and fire. Vibrant and driven, it shows off Kaniuk's lively, eccentric talent at its fullest.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row