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The Owl [Run, Soldier, Run]

Nissim Aloni

These four stories, first published between 1956 and 1962, are about children growing up in disadvantaged south Tel Aviv during the World War II. In the title story, a boy’s everyday trials in Tel Aviv of the early 40s―parents fussing over his homework and the state of his fingernails―are increasingly interrupted by radio bulletins charting the Germans' ravages across Europe. The boy fuses the chaos of the world into a blurred personal mythology staked to gothic reality by one glaring eye: "In the attic of Salomon's house lived an owl which was a thousand years old and which put the curse of death on anyone who dared approach it."

Here, as in the rest of this fine collection, the child's perspective is beautifully captured. His Innocent, unblinking gaze apprehends the world and claims from its everyday stories his own unassailable knowledge. The enchanted hue imparted by the Eastern-Mizrahi residents of the neighbourhood also determines their speech, their customs and spiritual world through their folklore and culture.


Aloni has succeeded in turning the materials of life in South Tel Aviv and his childhood stories into urban legends … The fantastic here breaks out of the borders of the local and makes it universal … Aloni is one of the fathers of the fantastic-lyrical story in Hebrew literature. The level of design, the powers of observation, and the rare ability to turn reality into fable are what give him a special place in Hebrew literature … Aloni’s stories seem to me to have had a decisive influence on the stories of Yaakov Shabtai.
Gershon Shaked, Haaretz
The subjective lyric tone, which can pause over experiences of an instant and through their intensity turn trivia of a growing child's life into the center of a gripping narrative confession … The four stories  are delightful reading for anyone whose ear is still attuned to the lyrical story of atmosphere.

Chaim Shoham, Maariv; Modern Hebrew Literature

Aloni’s stories, which bear the stamp of fantasy, are close to those of Günter Grass, Bulgakov and Marques … The central sensual experience in the stories is a refreshing vitality, free of apologetics or soul-scrabbling and thanks to that, the statute of limitations does not apply to these stories … The four stories make up a kind of coming of age novel, remarkable for its narrow focus and the richness of its description of experiences.
Gila Ramraz-Rauch, Davar

There is a great abundance of symbols in the stories, a wealth of well-told experiences, a richness that makes their author a superb story-teller, highly imaginative and powerful.
Hillel Barzel, Moznaim


It is not every day that a book appears which is a joy both to the soul and to the eyes, such as The Owl by Nissim Aloni. In each of the four stories in the collection, authenticity is evident. Only someone who has lived these things and felt their power could describe them with such clarity and with feeling that brims with musicality … There are passages that sound like poetry … The atmosphere is dynamic and vibrant … Even the spoken language becomes a unique kind of poetic language, and this is after all the author’s own particular language … Everyday spoken language becomes a joy.
Ilana Kedmi, Iton 77

In the prose of The Owl Nissim Aloni is revealed at his creative best … The localism, with its smells and sounds, allows Aloni a colorfulness of description and atmosphere … The yearning for places and people which have in them something of the wonderful, well intermixed with the narrative texture of a familiar place and neighborhood, ensures intriguing results … In these stories, as in the best of modern Hebrew fiction, the narrative achievement lies in the struggle of the individual for the formation of his personal awareness.
Giora Leshem, Moznayim 

The stories in The Owl worked magic on me. Like walking in a circus hall of mirrors; everything is also another thing … Each one of the elements in the plot ties in with the weave of the story and all together they form a complete and accurate pattern  … Nissim Aloni’s quest in search of his identity as a story teller and his solution are a prototype for the quest of Israeli literature for its own image since the 1940s.
Shin Shifra, Moznayim


Wonderful things happen to the Hebrew language in this book, and the characters surrounding the boy are painted in the colors of war, base desires, insanity and death, without ceasing to be very real underneath the makeup.
Galit Raved, Ha'ir

The Owl by Nissim Aloni represents the best of Israeli literature … Aloni became the Israeli Gabriel Garcia Marques even before we knew of Marques … Four marvelous stories of childhood … which stand right at the summit of Israeli literature … The narrative miracle occurs in the actual ability to astonishingly recreate the mindset of what can be defined as the planet of childhood. This is what Aloni has captured with unparalleled genius, while stretching the language to the fullest possible extent.
Menahem Ben, Iton 77; Maariv  


The four wondrous stories by Nissim Aloni, known also as a novella titled The Owl, have come out once again … The very republication of this marvelous novella is a cause for celebration and is worthy of admiration … The stories are superbly polished – and, in fact , why not say it, perfect.
Uri Hollander, Haaretz  

The republication of this book is a nice gesture, and from my point of view, a happy day for Hebrew literature. This slim collection of stories is a real little treasury of belles lettres” that are truly “belles”. Each sentence in it is built with such precision, like poetry, with a great deal of linguistic richness and poetic ability … Four stories that combine to form an enchanting coming of age novella … A chance to reaffirm that Aloni is not only one of our greatest playwrights but also a great author. A book that is pure pleasure: Take it to bed, and let it enter your dreams.
Yael Israel, Maariv NRG; Literary blog


The most powerful thing that these stories do is that they manage to take the reader into a faraway childhood world in which memories of a young Tel Aviv and the spell-binding echoes of the world war combine into a legendary-mythological weave.
Hagar Yanai, Globes

The four parts of the book are one of the finest prose works of Hebrew literature, and when reading them today they surprise not only in their freshness and their narrative innovation; it transpires that they form a Bildungsroman whose interdependent parts constitute a psychological whole that reaches its climax at the end.
Inbar Lagstein, Pnai Time    



Nissim Aloni The Owl
Title The Owl [Run, Soldier, Run]
Author’s Last Name Aloni
Author's First Name Nissim
Language(s) Hebrew, French
Genre stories
Publisher (Hebrew) Tarmil
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 1975
Publisher 2 (Hebrew) Hakibbutz Hameuchad
Year of Publication 2 (Hebrew) 1981
Publisher 3 (Hebrew) Am Oved, Omanut Laam
Year of Publication 3 (Hebrew) 1996; rev. ed. as Run, Soldier, Run: Hakibbutz Hameuchad/ Siman Kriah, 2006
No. Pages 153 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Ha-Yanshuf; later: Rutz, Chayal Turki
Representation Represented by ITHL


French: Paris, Viviane Hamy, 2016

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