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Uncle Peretz Takes Off

Shabtai is full of affection and satire. For him, his fascination with death marks the passing of an authentic, spiritual and religious harmony – the remains of Jewish Europe dying in Tel Aviv. Between the death of the grandfather in the first story and the passing of the grandmother in the last, there is a magnificent gallery of comic and idiosyncratic Quixotes who give Tel Aviv in the 40s an unpredictable frontier quality. Each of these characters is searching for a meaning that is absent, and waiting for a redemption that does not come. Uncle Shmuel tries to make his fortune as a poulterer. Uncle Pinek, a born swindler, ends his days as a refugee in Monaco fleeing his creditors. Albert Weiss-Finek dreams of a travelling circus in Palestine, while promising to marry three different women. The uncontrollably ribald Tamara Bell, who poses naked for artists, causes adolescent boys in the neighborhood excruciating flickers of desire. Shabtai’s individualists embody everything he wants to say about the comedy, the energy and the tragedy that has been erased by the rigidly regulated Zionist enterprise. In a wider sense, the shameful and ridiculous posturings of this family are strangely familiar: the gasp of people approaching death without having learned the secret of life.

English, Estonian, French, German, Italian
Title Uncle Peretz Takes Off
Writer's Last Name Shabtai
Writer's First Name Yaakov
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Hakibbutz Hameuchad
No. Pages 194pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Ha-Dod Peretz Mamri
  • “ Shabtai's world is a narrative web suffused with autobiographical memory about life lived in the ideological dimension. ”

    La Repubblica
  • “ Shabtai is a master of ancient wisdom. ”

    Il Corriere della Sera
  • “ This book has a joy, a freedom and a drive that are absolutely spellbinding. If one wanted to find Shabtai’s ancestors, one could easily say: Babel, Zotchenko and Singer… His eloquence is contagious. ”

    Magazine Littéraire
  • “ Uncle Peretz Takes Off is a stylistic trailblazer… Its language is supple, evocative, unstrained, free of formulaic mannerisms and in touch with the immediacy of spoken Hebrew. ”