Gershon Shaked. Sons [Immigrants]

This sweeping novel tells the story of two families who immigrate to Eretz Israel in the 1930s before the outbreak of war. Their story reflects the turning point in the annals of the Jewish people in the 20th century against the background of the dramatic events of the era, but is mainly focused on the lives of two people, representives of the two families, Avner Rosenbaum and Rubi Weinstock, who are close boyhood friends.
Avner and Rubi, who attend a high school where most of the students are from "good families," are the sons of lower middle-class families living in rundown southern Tel Aviv. The fathers` occupations and the neighborhood in which they live are factors that heighten one of the central conflicts in the novel: the relations between fathers and sons, which evolve in a complex and multifaceted fashion.
The novel has a dual structure and the events are related from two angles. The first part is told from the viewpoint of Avner, who leaves the country, after the War of Independence with his girlfriend Amira to study medicine in Switzerland. They marry there, and after their return home, Avner devotes himself to oncological research, while Amira sets up a chain of pharmacies and concentrates on business.
The second part, related from Rubi`s viewpoint, depicts his life as a child in Vienna on the eve of World War II, forced to face traumatic experiences, such as his father`s internment in Buchenwald and his journey alone to Eretz Israel. He spends his first difficult years in the country in a boarding school, cut off from his parents, and after graduating from high school and fighting in the War of Independence, he leaves to study theater in Vienna, while trying to come to terms with his past and with his ambiguous attitude towards the country of his birth and the non-Jewish world. Rubi becomes a theater director, dividing his time between Israel and other countries. There are a number of women in his life but in the end he makes a commitment to Amira, who is divorced from Avner. The wheel comes full circle with the death of Rubi`s parents in the hospital where Avner works as an oncologist.

I found [Shaked’s] novel absorbing from beginning to end... A striking success.
Critic Robert Alter
This is history as it was experienced and shaped by these specific immigrants…..part of a wave of immigration which was never totally defined, and whose imprint is evident in all aspects of Israeli life. 

Shaked has written a book that is formidable in its somber beauty, about the immigration of Poles and Yekkes (German Jews) to Israel in the late 1930s, about their lives as icemen, wagon drivers, about the slums... An amazing book.
Author Yoram Kaniuk, Haaretz

English translation available (for publishers only)

Title Sons [Immigrants]
Author’s Last Name Shaked
Author's First Name Gershon
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Hakibbutz Hameuchad
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2001
No. Pages 251 pp
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Mehagrim
Representation Represented by ITHL