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Anonymity

Agur Schiff

Two Israeli authors are invited to a literary festival in Marrakesh, Morocco. One, Yoel Onn, is popular and arrogant, much-acclaimed all over the world. He is accompanied by his young wife. The other, Aram Frisch, almost anonymous, even in his own land, is a shrewd, ironic, self-deprecating man. The three of them are abducted from their hotel by an unknown revolutionary organization and held hostage in a tent in the Sahara. 

During their long sojourn in the desert, cut off, exhausted, sick with despair, and while engaged in a deranged dialogue with their captors and await an unimaginable fate, the two writers fluctuate between mutual contempt and forgiving fraternity, and the woman alternately mediates and separates between them. They hope of course that Israel will rescue them in a brilliant military operation, or at least pay the huge ransom the kidnappers are demanding. But the negotiations over their release moves unhurriedly, and in any case, the abductors tell Aram, he can leave because they don't want anything in exchange for him. They don’t consider Aram to have any worth. But where will he go? All around there is only sand and wilderness.   

Within this fabric of relations, two more sub-plots arise: One is the new novel that Yoel Onn is dictating to his wife at night, in which the characters are living in another time and faraway places. Nevertheless, it is a topical comment about the human need to belong and to be recognized. It is the story of a Jewish orphan, born in Lithuania, in the second half of the 19th century who roamed from one family to another and in the end emigrates to the United States. He becomes rich and famous and is offered the position of emperor of a new Jewish kingdom which will rise in the deserts of Arizona. The other sub-plot is made up of Aram’s memory flashes of his childhood in Tel Aviv and letters that he writes in his mind to his wife, and it wraps the entire novel in a gripping biographical envelope.

A grotesque, comic and intelligent novel, replete with imagination and inventiveness.

 

 

REVIEWS

Schiff has written his book in a playful, unrestrained headlong rush, with no lack of self-irony … He writes a witty allegory of the history of Hebrew literature … He mocks the laws defining the correct and the appropriate; debases the literary cannon, bit also takes pity on it … Clownishness is not a trivial thing, it always bears a parodic nature … Schiff enjoys this role and is also committed to it in a impertinent and mischievous way … He tosses a lot of balls into the air, and sometimes I feared he wouldn’t be able to catch them with the right timing … but wonder of wonders, he collects each of these spinning balls with perfect timing … A complex- and creative novel, revealing and witty but entirely free of supercilious respectability … It’s laugh is infectious.   

Omri Herzog, Haaretz

 

Anonymity is brilliant and subtle satirical novel … Schiff’s books are excellent, and they are getting better … Important and interesting is the story-within-the-story of this novel … Some of the best passages with deepest insights are in that sub-plot …The game of mirrors, of parallel possibilities and of dead ends is the force-multiplier of this book; it along with the untrammeled imagination and the self-humor.

Tsur Ehrlich, Makor Rishon

 

Lovely. This is a hilarious literary journey, unruly and very true, into the realms of imagination … Simply, a whole lot of fun. Agur Schiff is an outstanding writer in my opinion … I haven’t felt so entertained in ages. Schiff has distilled the essence of the Israeli literary swamp and placed it into a situation that makes a mockery of it … It all carries on in unrealistic but well-honed understatement, like an amusing brain game. This is also true of the dialogues between the multiple unhinged characters … Anonymity is an excellent option for a trip full of laughs and enjoyment.   

Orit Harel, Literary Blog

 

Schiff’s writing is intelligent and measuredly critical … The plots are magnificent, with their admirable inventiveness … What gives the book depth is the architectural structure of a story within a story, enabling the text to skip easily between the two corresponding levels and to say more than what the words alone say.

Keren Dotan, Israel Hayom

 

Trenchant, mocking, funny, deranged writing … The reckoning with the literary establishment, which functions sometimes like a members-only clique, brings a refreshing breeze along with it.

Gili Izikovich, Haaretz

 

Agur Schiff does a good job of sketching the three characters and the dynamics between them … A multi-layered novel, replete with humor.

Maya Levin, Laisha

 

Enjoyable and light … A funny book which gives a sense of compulsive delusion … To Agur Schiff’s credit, it must be said that he does it so well that, despite the different styles, the work that emerges is flows along smoothly … There are moments that touch upon emotion, but most of time it’s just a book that’s fun to read and to admire the writer’s talents.

Sarit Flain, Literary Blog

 

An excellent book. Agur Schiff writes awfully well …From year to year he grows as a writer … This book is a great pleasure.

Shiri Zuck, Channel 2 TV

 

The overall plot is riveting … A writer who has lit upon an overall idea into which he is able to pour intriguing literary content, to the best of his imagination … Schiff writes well, his language is elevated, his imagination is fertile.

Ito Aviram, Hitrashmut

 

A very enjoyable read. Written flowingly, making you want to go on and find out what happens to his heroes in each one of the stories. Interspersed with a subtle humor, convincingly credible characters. An intriguing and pleasant reading experience.

Eti Seroussi, Literary Blog



Title Anontmity
Author’s Last Name Schiff
Author's First Name Agur
Language(s) Hebrew
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Am Oved
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2017
No. Pages 386 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Almoniyut
Representation Represented by ITHL
 
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