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The History of Art

Yossi Waxman

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.

In 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.

More 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.

The 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.



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 Ahronoth


The immediate 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.


Title The History of Art
Author’s Last Name Waxman
Author's First Name Yossi
Language(s) Hebrew
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Xargol/ Modan
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2015
No. Pages 284 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Toldot Ha-Omanut
Representation Represented by ITHL

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