How can the
history of art―not "respectable" art, but forgotten, wild art―be told
in a novel? This is the story of a bunch of passionate freaks who sought refuge
for their passions and fears at the edge of the world.
a move that seemed natural in Israel of the 1950s, a group of artists including
immigrants and natives resettled an abandoned Arab village on the slopes of
Mount Carmel. In time, they built galleries and a museum, created arts and
crafts, and beautified the village.
than half a century later, after a huge forest fire devastated the village,
Shlomi and Yedidia were forced to
abandon their home and became refugees, at least for a while. The disaster made
them look in a mirror that both focused and distorted the story of that village.
History of Art speaks in many voices: The voice of Shlomi, an artist who settled in
the village against his will; the artist Dina-Dada who tells the story of the
early settlers and her numerous lovers; Zakaria, an old Arab, who was in his
youth Dina-Dada's devoted lover and soulmate; the wild boars and the forest
spirits; and the voices of paintings and sculptures that come to life and speak
in human tongues. They offer a variety of angles and stories of secrets and
passions, going back and forth between the old, naïve days and now, between art
and living bodies, the personal and the political, and between impossible love
stories and a routine―almost obvious―love.
PARTIAL ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
In a captivating and passionate account, Yossi Waxman
formulates the story of a group of artists who settled in an abandoned Arab
village on the slopes of Mt. Carmel in the middle of the last century … This is
an expressive book, exciting, blunt and overwhelming, which does not follow the
usual narrative path of contemporary Israeli literature, and brings with it a
refreshing spirit and intriguing characters who stay with us long after we have
finished reading. Thanks to the unconventional treatment of art and the lives
of artists, and to the spanking momentum
of the narrative, The History of Art is our bestseller of the week. It
is worth your while.
Warmly recommended … A
new book by one of our most magnificent writers, Yossi Waxman: wild, human,
honest, courageous, audacious, just as good writers ought to be. The History
of Art is a demanding book, but generous to lovers of reading.
Author Yossi Avni-Levy
The choice of the main
location is brilliant. The novel’s plot takes place mostly in the artists
village of Ein Hod … Its beginning, in which the voice is that of a fire raging
on Mount Carmel, is one of the most magnificent, beautiful and powerful
beginnings I have read … Engrossing and sophisticated.
Omri Herzog, Haaretz
It's great to come upon
something like this. A fun, clever book … This is a read that has value – an
example of a veteran and erudite writer who still looks at the world through
the eyes of an outsider.
Yoni Livneh, Yedioth
association I had while reading Yossi Waxman's The History of Art
(which, it must be said, is excellent) was of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood
– the strange village, somewhat remote, the multiplicity of live and dead voices
that alternate with each other, the acute ironic perceptiveness, tempered with
forgiveness for the characters with their dreams and weaknesses, their desires
and their wars small and big.
Author Nizan Weisman
The beginning of The
History of Art is hypnotic … In Waxman’s books in general, including The
History of Art, the love of humanity stands out, and it is clear that the
writer has an unconcealed affection for human weaknesses and foibles. Waxman is
a writer who has compassion for his heroes and likes them even when they are
miserable and treacherous, or envious, or lecherous or cruel.
Gili Izikovich, Haaretz
It is not clear which is the nuttier: artists, or Waksman’s book dealing with them.