Israel’s conscience goes global

The Israeli writer David Grossman’s new novel To the End of the Land, which was published in the United States this week, has generated the kind of buzz that publicists dream about. Paul Auster likened Grossman to Flaubert and Tolstoy and declared the book a work of “overwhelming power and intensity.” Novelist Nicole Krauss was ...

JOHN MACDOUGALL/IDF/AFP/Getty Images

The Israeli writer David Grossman's new novel To the End of the Land, which was published in the United States this week, has generated the kind of buzz that publicists dream about. Paul Auster likened Grossman to Flaubert and Tolstoy and declared the book a work of "overwhelming power and intensity." Novelist Nicole Krauss was even more emphatic. In a long blurb, she gushed, "Very rarely, a few times in a lifetime, you open a book and when you close it again nothing can ever be the same.... To the End of the Land is a book of this magnitude."

It's easy to snicker at the breathlessness of such praise (and many did), but it testifies to the reverence with which Grossman is regarded in liberal circles in America and Europe. Though much of his recent fiction (most of which has been translated from Hebrew into English and published widely abroad) deals with quotidian topics like marriage and adultery, drugs, love, and life as a teenager, Grossman is known -- and venerated -- outside of Israel primarily for his critiques of Israeli policy. Slate Group editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg, writing recently in Newsweek, characteristically described Grossman (and his fellow novelist Amos Oz) as Israel's "national consciences." In June, Grossman won the prestigious German Book Trade Peace Prize for his efforts as an "active supporter of reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis."

The Israeli writer David Grossman’s new novel To the End of the Land, which was published in the United States this week, has generated the kind of buzz that publicists dream about. Paul Auster likened Grossman to Flaubert and Tolstoy and declared the book a work of “overwhelming power and intensity.” Novelist Nicole Krauss was even more emphatic. In a long blurb, she gushed, “Very rarely, a few times in a lifetime, you open a book and when you close it again nothing can ever be the same…. To the End of the Land is a book of this magnitude.”

It’s easy to snicker at the breathlessness of such praise (and many did), but it testifies to the reverence with which Grossman is regarded in liberal circles in America and Europe. Though much of his recent fiction (most of which has been translated from Hebrew into English and published widely abroad) deals with quotidian topics like marriage and adultery, drugs, love, and life as a teenager, Grossman is known — and venerated — outside of Israel primarily for his critiques of Israeli policy. Slate Group editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg, writing recently in Newsweek, characteristically described Grossman (and his fellow novelist Amos Oz) as Israel’s “national consciences.” In June, Grossman won the prestigious German Book Trade Peace Prize for his efforts as an “active supporter of reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis.”

Read more.

Evan R. Goldstein is a staff editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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