This first novel by playwright Joshua Sobol is written as an amusing yet gloomy monologue, which reconstructs the now long-gone world that was Eretz Israel. Sobol's tale includes a wealth of painstakingly precise details. The backdrop of the novel provides him with the opportunity to consider the differences between false and true art and the intimate and distant relationship between father and son.
The storyteller's confession is written during the second decade of the twenty first century. The protagonist, now eighty years old, has been silent his entire life. He surveys his life from this final vantage point, focusing on his childhood years in a small, Eretz Israel village in the Sharon region in the 1940s. The village is presented as a fascinating human comedy with British soldiers, children survivors of the Holocaust, working class folk impassioned with idealism, a gang of kids and their leader, grotesque families and animals with unusual personalities. Passions and sublimated sexuality, sadistic impulses and death wishes all bubble in the provincial cauldron. Growing up in the stifling world, the author elected to remain silent. Perhaps it was his frighteningly clear recollection of the trauma he suffered when he was circumcised on the very day World War II broke out, or perhaps he needs to maintain a uniqueness in a world that snuffed out any glimmer of originality. Or perhaps he saw no point in saying things as if they were his own, when indeed they were not. This novel breaks the silence, an attempt to keep those significant to his life from being forgotten.
A passionate string of private as well as historical situations, tragic and funny, banal and bizarre... Sobol has created a work of art of great polyphonic diversity and verbal density.
Sobol's great novel is a radical investigation of causes. It is a novel full of strong colors and hardy figures.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Very often funny... An impressive novel.