The unconventional form of this novel is explained by the author in terms of its fictional conception. After the death of his grandfather, the narrator found a chest full of manuscripts, letters and wills belonging to generations of the Abramson family. From this vast treasury he selected some 60 items around which the novel was constructed. The book is divided into three parts. The first, entitled "Chameleon," is a compilation of short entries; the second, entitled "Nightingale," supplies further information; the third, called "My Brother," is a novel in the form of a diary. This seemingly complicated structure enables the author to elaborate on various experiences in a richly textured prose that is both epic and humorous. The novel thus becomes a cunningly disguised autobiography in which the individual's life merges with the history of his people and personal experiences gain added depth and breadth. Tammuz himself described his new novel as, "An Annotated Catalog of Human Behavior."
Chameleon and Nightingale proves that the distinction we make between conventional and avant-garde literature is risky. In the end we choose between good and bad writing. Tammuz's novel, the product of good writing and an unusual structure, reveals a great writer.
Tammuz is indeed a very clever writer. In this novel he again achieves a literary coup.
It is like a vast crossword puzzle...with the clues being revealed paragraph by paragraph.
Critic Yigal Schwartz
English translation available (for publishers only)