Sixty years after fighting in Israels War of Independence, Yoram Kaniuk tries to remember what exactly didand did nothappen in his time as a teenage soldier in the Palmach. The result is a touchingly poignant and hauntingly beautiful memoir that the author himself considers a work of fiction, for what is memory but ones own story about the past?
In this case, that past is the war in which Kaniuk fought when he was only seventeen years old. Eschewing self-righteousness in favor of self-criticism, Kaniuks book, winner of the 2010 Sapir Prize for Literature, is the tale of a younger man told by his older, wiser selfthe self who realizes that wars are senseless, and that he and his friends, young men from good homes forming an offbeat band of brothers, were senseless to see glory in the prospect of dying young. But it is also a painful, shocking, and tragically relevant homage to the importance of bearing witness to the follies of the past, evenor especiallywhen they are ones own.
Kaniuk conveys the spirit of the time in a truly unique way.
The best book Ive read this year… Kaniuks voice is bold, clear, loving,
An experimentalist fond of the southerly wind of the long and longing sentence, he has rightly been compared with Borges and Marquez as much as with James Joyce.
—Joshua Cohen, The Jewish Daily Forward
One of the masters of contemporary fiction [because of] his inordinate technical skill, fecundity of incident and character, and overall intensity.
If the prophets of the Old Testament had read Joyce, Kafka, Márquez, Conrad and Gershom Scholem, listened to American jazz, seen Broadway musicals and heard Lenny Bruce, they might have sounded something like Kaniuk.
—Nicole Krauss, Time
Of the novelists I have discovered in translation…the three for whom I have the greatest admiration are Gabriel Garciá Márquez, Peter Handke, and Yoram Kaniuk.
A writer of remarkable gifts…highly original and richly complicated.
—The New York Review of Books