Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Tale in Arabic

If you've not yet read Amos Oz A Tale of Love and Darkness, do so. Stop reading this blog if you don't have time for both. It's the best book published in Israel last decade, period.

If you can't read the Hebrew original, you can now read an Arabic translation, published in Beirut.
The translation, by Israeli Arab Jamal Gnaim, was funded by the Khoury family of East Jerusalem in memory of their son George Khoury. Khoury was a promising Hebrew University law student when he was killed in a 2004 shooting attack while jogging on the university's Mt. Scopus campus.
(His killers thought he was a Jew).

Oz himself, musing on the success of the book, makes a profound point:
"Apparently the more a book is provincial, the more it is universal. When I wrote the book, I thought it would be read only by Jerusalemites from my neighborhood - I was sure that they wouldn't understand it in Tel Aviv," Oz said. "Now they're reading it in Beirut, Albania, Bulgaria and Korea. In China, for example, it was chosen as one of the best books of 2007."
Universal values are all well and fine, but they must start with real people, who live in real places, with real contexts. The power of universally significant stories or ideas is that people worldwide recognize our common humanity in diversity.

1 comment:

Avi said...

As an Israeli in the 21st century living in Jerusalem, reading the book, the part that made my hair stand on end was the description of the night that the UN voted on partition on 29th November 1947.

It is difficult to conceive the difference in self image between the Jews then, powerless, downtrodden and recently massacred and that of our position today.