Amos Oz was Israel’s best-known novelist. Through numerous short stories, novels and essays, Oz described a world often at odds with the optimism of the nascent nation state, his writing focused on his immediate geography and situation. Oz’s first published work arrived in 1965 – the collection of tales Where the Jackals Howl – and 1968 saw print of his My Michael, the novel that properly established his reputation as a true chronicler of the Israeli kibbutz experience. “I wanted to become a simple, dumb tractor driver,” he told the New Yorker. “But I began to write secretly. I couldn’t resist it.”
Balancing his writing with his long-held, passionate belief in a two-state solution with Palestine, Oz continued to map out the complexities of life in contemporary Israel, his search for truth bursting to the surface in the 2002 autobiographical novel A Tale of Love and Darkness. Here, Oz finally confronts the tragic act which shaped his entire life: the suicide of his mother when the author was just 12 years old. The book rapidly became a literary blockbuster and firmly established Oz as one of the world’s great writing talents, scoring a dizzying roster of awards and prizes. Later work included 2009’s Scenes from Village Life and 2014’s much-feted Judas. “Fundamentalists live life with an exclamation point,” he said. “I prefer to live my life with a question mark.”
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