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Scenes from Village Life Hardcover – October 18, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

A "thought provoking collection... Filled with tension and allegory, Oz's perceptive tales explore the nuance and alienation of transitioning states."
--Booklist

 "Finely wrought... Oz writes characterizations that are subtle but surgically precise, rendering this work a powerfully understated treatment of an uneasy Israeli conscience."
-Publishers Weekly, starred "Highly recommended."
-Library Journal, starred
 
UK Praise for SCENES FROM VILLAGE LIFE:
 
"An impressive and very affecting achievement...These stories, in their humanity, may do more for Israel than any of the decisions we have been led to expect of its leaders in the months to come."
-New Statesman
 
"One of the most powerful books you will read about present-day Israel."
-Jewish Chronicle

About the Author

Amos Oz was born in Jerusalem in 1939. He is the author of fourteen novels and collections of short fiction, and numerous works of nonfiction. His acclaimed memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness was an international bestseller and recipient of the prestigious Goethe prize, as well as the National Jewish Book Award. Scenes from Village Life, a New York Times Notable Book, was awarded the Prix Méditerranée Étranger in 2010. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Nicholas de Lange is a professor at the University of Cambridge and a renowned translator. He has translated Amos Oz’s work since the 1960s.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547483368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547483368
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #790,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amos Oz was born in Jerusalem in 1939. He is the author of fourteen novels and collections of short fiction, and numerous works of nonfiction. His acclaimed memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness was an international bestseller and recipient of the prestigious Goethe prize, as well as the National Jewish Book Award. Scenes from Village Life, a New York Times Notable Book, was awarded the Prix Méditerranée Étranger in 2010. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Alan A. Elsner VINE VOICE on August 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This loosely-connected series of short stories by the Israeli master Amos Oz laments a world that has passed away. Set in the fictional village of Tel Ilan in the Hills of Menashe south and east of Haifa, the book seems to regret the passing of the "old Israel" built by the generations of socialist pioneers.

Each of the stories, and virtually all of the characters we meet, seem suffused by a mysterious melancholy. The village is lovely, with its old brick houses covered in flowering vines, its parks and farms -- but it is also decaying from within. At night, jackals in the surrounding hills yowl threateningly. Old people tread the streets living half in the present and half in the past. Middle-aged people long to escape but can't. Young people seek outlets for their loves and desires and find none. Meanwhile cynical developers are anxious to get hold of these lovely buildings to tear them down and build new villas for the nouveau riche while visitors from the city throng the streets and alleys of the village on weekends shopping in the new boutiques and snacking in the cafes that have sprung up to accommodate them.

Several stories seem to be meant to be understood allegorically. One long retired political lion of the left is still reliving the internal disputes of the past of a socialist party that no longer even exists. He spends his day growling at his daughter while trying to stave off dementia and thinks he hears the sounds of digging in his cellar at night. Eventually he infects two other people living in the house with that same delusion. What does the digging and scratching signify? I suppose it's the slow hollowing out of the idealism that built the village in the first place.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Israel Drazin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Amos Oz is a great writer. He writes in Hebrew, and his books are translated into English. He is considered one of the top three Israeli writers. This book, which will be published on October 20, 2011 - I received as an advance reading copy - contains eight brilliant short, perceptive, thought-provoking, and somewhat disturbing vignettes, about sometimes surreal citizens of an Israeli village.

For example, in the first story Heirs, an unusual stranger, outlandishly dressed with bizarre behavior, arrives at the home of a troubled man and tells him that he would like to buy his very old mother's house, the house in which he and his mother are living. The son is conflicted. He wants and doesn't want to sell. He tells the man to leave. But the man ignores the order, enters the house, goes to the silent old woman's bedroom, and gets into bed with her, strokes and kisses her, and mummers softly, "Everything is going to be all right, dear lady. It's going to be lovely. We'll take care of everything." The son also undresses and gets into the bed with his quite old mother. Readers will ask: What is the significance of the bed scene? Why is the tale called Heirs in the plural when the old woman only has a single son?

Similarly, in the seventh story Singing a man of the village leaves the thirty-some villagers who came to a home to sing together. This is the home of a man and woman whose son committed suicide under their bed, and lay there dead for a day undiscovered. The husband hasn't gotten over the event, and sits on the side brooding while the others are singing. The visitor also suffers despair. He wanders upstairs, confused, without understanding why he is doing so, enters a bedroom, and thinks: "I had no further reason to turn my back on despair.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The village is named Tel Ilan. It is a Jewish "pioneer village" settled over a century ago in a secluded valley somewhere in Israel. Until recently it was an agricultural village, a "forgotten backwater". But it has been discovered by the wealthy and cosmopolitan, who are buying up the old single-story houses, razing them, and replacing them with large villas. During the week it still is sleepy, but on weekends it bustles with life; lines of cars arrive in the village, and their passengers visit boutique wineries, art galleries, and stores selling Far Eastern furnishings, cheese, honey, and olives.

SCENES FROM VILLAGE LIFE contains seven sketches of life in Tel Ilan, ranging from 15 to 41 pages. A smarmy attorney makes overtures to an about 60-year-old man to help him move his aged mother into a nursing home so that the family homestead, which dates back to the original Jewish settlers, can be sold. A woman doctor meets the evening bus from Tel Aviv, expecting a visit from her nephew, a soldier in the army who has been invalided with a kidney problem, but he is not on the bus nor does she receive any message from him. The mayor receives a note at his office from his wife that reads "Don't worry about me"; after he goes home and she is not there, he wanders the village looking for her, to no avail. And four more such vignettes. Nothing much happens in any of them. But all are permeated with a vague disquiet, all feature lonely central characters, and all are simply and beautifully written.

There are only a few references to the Palestinian/Israeli, or Arab/Jew, conflict.
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