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The Bitter Scent of Geranium

Benjamin Tammuz

After publishing a series of novels and novellas, Tammuz returns to the short story and to the Land of Israel of the 1920s and 30s. Embedding them in the great historic events of the time, he portrays various types of Jewish immigrants in old Tel Aviv. But they do not aspire to be, nor could they be the heroes of their time. These are not practical people, they are incapable of being part of a collective, and they are not trying to fulfill themselves as artists or as private individuals. History has destroyed their pleasures and dreams: the events of the time crush them, but they do not complain and, surprisingly, show neither resilience nor determination. Instead, it is their static nature, their eccentricities and the distanced objectivity with which the narrator portrays them, that produce the humorous tone of the book.


Tammuz’s stories are flawlessly told, using means that are astonishingly simple: clever phrasing and organization of the events. The most complex situations are told with a maximum of economy and with uncommon naturalness. This book is definitely an event in the life of Hebrew literature.

Yosef Oren, Maariv, 16.5.80

We have here one of most interesting and cultivated new collections of stories … There is, in these love stories, a certain magic … their structure and the rhythm of the language are polished, as is the way that Tammuz blends in stylized literary Hebrew, which he then undermines to create comic and ironic effects ... Beyond that, there are often also intriguing and believable paradoxes that touch upon the trivialities of life …Tammuz is a great storyteller precisely because of his simplicity.

Yaron Golan, Davar, 16.5.80

Title The Bitter Scent of Geranium
Author’s Last Name Tammuz
Author's First Name Benjamin
Language(s) Hebrew
Genre stories
Publisher (Hebrew) Hakibbutz Hameuchad
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 1980
No. Pages 192 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Reicho Ha-Mar Shel Ha-Geranium
Representation Represented by ITHL