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My Michael Paperback – November 1, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In articulate, impassioned articles written during the '80s, Israeli writer Oz urges Israelis to talk peace with the PLO. Also slated from Vintage International is the reprint of My Michael , Oz's novel of a collapsing marriage and a wife on the road to madness ($11 * ISBN 0-679-72804-X ).
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

PRAISE FOR MY MICHAEL

"Slow, thoughtful, self-assured and highly sophisticated, full of the most skillful modulations of tone and texture. A modern Israeli Madame Bovary . . . distinguished by its warmth, its lyricism and remarkable technical control."--The New York Times

"A dazzling, very beautiful, splendidly conceived and composed book."--The New York Review of Books
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; 1 edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156031604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156031608
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Written in 1967 , when Oz was only 28 years old, "My Michael" is still considered by many to be Oz's best novel ever.The plot takes place in the 1950's,Israel is still young, and Jerusalem is an old decaying city of stone and rusty fences. Hannah and Michael are a young couple and The story, as told by Hannah , takes us along several years of their married life. As the plot progresses we witness the two characters become distant and disharmonic. Hannah, who has a very turbulent soul feels suffocated with the everyday life ,with the jerusalem streets and with Michael who is a very unexciting person.She becomes more and more drawn to her fantasies and daydreams about a dramatic and heroic world where she is a princess being captive in the boring everyday world.With a cold ,misty and rainy Jerusalem as background and with the outstanding power of expression and depth "My Michael" is a book that hypnotizes and enchants the reader.If you have to read one Oz novel- That should be the one!
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Format: Paperback
Hannah Gonen, thirty years old and living in Jerusalem in the late 1950s, has been wife for ten years to Michael, a man she pursued and married when she was in her first year at the university and he was a graduate student. Michael, who describes himself as "good...a bit lethargic, but hard-working, responsible, clean, and very honest," eventually earns his PhD. in geology and begins work at the university. Hannah, who has given up her literature studies upon her marriage, soon finds married life--and Michael himself--to be tedious.

Writing in short, factual sentences, which come alive through his choice of details, author Amos Oz, often mentioned as a Nobel Prize candidate, creates the story of a marriage which may or may not survive. Hannah and Michael married in 1949, shortly after Israel gained its independence, and the author often uses Hannah's battles for independence and control to parallel the growing pains of a new land determined to defend itself. As their family backgrounds unfold, the behavior of Hannah and Michael within the marriage are seen in a wider context. Hannah yearns for excitement, often drawing on her store of vibrant childhood memories to escape into a dream world. Michael, hard-working and pragmatic, remains a geologist, firmly connected to the earth.

Mired in depression after the birth of their son, Hannah gradually becomes more and more unstable until she makes herself physically ill, a condition which she sees, ironically, as offering her freedom. As the marriage and Hannah's sanity deteriorate, the author's use of symbols gives depth and universality to the story. Hannah often imagines a glass dome over herself and her family.
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Format: Paperback
This is definitely a book which was difficult to put down, because of the sense of anticipation the reader develops. It was an excellent look at the devastating effects of mental illness on a victim and her family, told more subtly than in other literary works. Though I am unfamiliar with Amos Oz's autobiographical work, it does become evident that the author's development of Hannah's character and the first person voice can only be derived from personal experience. Michael's character is also developed brilliantly. Descriptions of Hannah's mad dreams and illusions are quite laborious and it is difficult to associate the details in them with Hannah's real world. The early days of the State of Israel serves as a historical backdrop for the novel. I believe there is symbolism in the novel which would be more apparent to Israelis and those reading the novel in its original language, Hebrew.
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Format: Paperback
"My Michael" is the debut novel of Amos Oz, one of my favorite writers. A very good debut, although when I finished reading, I was feeling tired and sad, with many thoughts crowding in my head. I think that it is best to read this book in small doses, although it attracts like a magnet - it is better not to devour it all at once.

The novel, set in Jerusalem in the 1950's (the descriptions of the city and political situation of Israel are a great bonus and make the story rooted in reality, although it is universal and could happen anywhere else), is narrated by Hannah Greenbaum-Gonen and is a story of her relationship with Michael Gonen. Hannah meets Michael when she slips on the stairs at the university, where she is a freshman studying Hebrew literature, and he is a third-year student of geology. They fall in love (although Hannah has lots of criticism about Michael from the first day) , get married, have a son, Yair, and we follow them during ten less of marriage, looking at their family life through Hannah's eyes.

Hannah is a tragic, grotesque person, who failed to evoke my sympathy. I strongly disliked her, although I appreciated the author's mastery in creating brilliantly rendered female character. She does not appreciate her husband, who is a hard-working scientist, provides for the family and has considerable achievements in his field. In contrast, Hannah gave up her studies when she had a baby and does not have any intention to continue her education. She spends her time fantasizing about the Arab twin brothers, who were her childhood friends, and about herself as a princess. Unfulfilled artist in her drives her crazy and causes her to be oblivious to the world around her and to the closest family, ending up sick, tired, disillusioned and disappointed.
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