This book is both a love story and a masterly portrait of Israeli society over three decades, with all its tensions and challenges. Yet Saul is not the typical Israeli hero we find in many of the novels written by Amir`s contemporaries. He is the scion of a deeply rooted Sephardi family from Jerusalem whose right-wing father was part of the Etzel underground movement. Saul`s bar mitzvah is attended by Menachem Begin, whom his father admired and who would later become Prime Minister of Israel after leading the Likud party to its first victory over the Left. The memory of this meeting remains a treasured image in Saul`s mind, even after he becomes a political moderate and an ardent supporter of territorial compromise with the Palestinians.
Saul joins an elite army unit - humorously dubbed "The Blacks" - largely made up of Sephardi and Mizrahi Arabic-speakers, and commanded by Avshalom who grew up in an underprivileged Haifa neighborhood. Saul and Avashalom become very close, but their friendship is cut short when Avshalom is killed in the Yom Kippur War. After Saul is discharged from the army, he starts Oriental Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he meets Chaya, originally from Poland. As a child, Chaya went through the Holocaust with her parents before immigrating to Israel. The two young people fall in love; Saul hears Chaya`s terrible life story and also befriends her cousin who was hidden in a Polish convent during the Holocaust, remained a Christian and is now a nun at a convent in northern Israel. But Saul does not marry his beloved - her parents object, and persuade her instead to marry a wealthy young man of Ashkenazi extraction. Saul, who has become interested in computers, flies to the United States to study at Stanford University. He invents successful software programs and becomes a rich man, but still maintains contact with Israel. Saul never marries, but with the election defeat of the Right and Yitzhak Rabin`s rise to power, he returns to Israel and gets ready to meet Mazi, Avshalom`s widow and a left-wing activist.
English translation available (for publishers only)