Friday, September 24, 2010

David Grossman's Tribulations

David Grossman's new book, To the End of the Land, has just been published in English. I will probably not be able to read it because it concerns a mother's loss of her son -- most likely, I will be staying away from books like that until my son is well into his middle-age. Yet, he has moved me in his other works. Grossman articulates the complexity of the Israeli experience and it really doesn't matter that he speaks from the 'Left' and has been vocal about the occupation and settlements; he is passionately in love with his country.

The mainstream media has bought the dichotomy of Palestinian anguish and Israeli aggression. While Palestinians' violence is tolerated as a response to decades of oppression, Israelis' decades of insecurity are minimized. The toll of 62 years of living under a cloud of hostility and impermanence has been huge.

Grossman's characters personify life that is not allowed to be normal. When Israelis attempt normalcy they are caricatured as party-going, money-mad insensitives. This is what Time magazine did recently and what Roger Cohen etal do continuously in the NY Times. When Rick Stengel of Time said, "They [the Israelis] haven't had a car bombing in two and a half years. And the sad truth really is that the wall with the West Bank has actually worked," he was speaking as someone who refuses to acknowledge Israelis' humanity.

Even when Grossman states, "In a strange way you can live in this place and yet be totally detached from what happens," he is describing a life that is lived in a tense relationship to the conflict, not apart from it. You don't have to agree with his analysis or prescriptions -- he renders Israelis in three-dimensions and that is more than what appears on our menu most days.

Profile in the New Yorker: 

Interview in Spiegel:,1518,641437,00.html

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