CULTURE

Amos Oz coming to Greece for ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’

A novel of almost epic proportions, multilayered and open to various interpretations, «A Tale of Love and Darkness» is one of Amos Oz’s most ambitious and accomplished works. Israel’s leading writer, known for his activism on Middle Eastern issues and his progressive views on Palestinian-Israeli coexistence, will be in Greece this month to present his latest book, now available from Kastaniotis in a translation by Yacov Shimbi with an appendix by Maggie Cohen. «A Tale of Love and Darkness,» a 736-page book, is doing well in Greece, having already sold 8,000 copies. Oz will deliver a speech in Athens on January 19 at the Athens Concert Hall on the subject «A Life between Love and Darkness.» Writer Lena Divani will introduce the author. The event, jointly organized by Kastaniotis, the Israeli Embassy in Athens and the concert hall, is open to the public and starts at 7 p.m. On the following day, January 20, Oz will attend an event held in his honor at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, where he will receive an award. A writer with a broad, international readership who has been translated into numerous languages, Oz is a man of dual identities. Israeli and citizen of the world, patriot and pacifist, columnist and novelist, Oz has allowed the nature of duality to permeate his work. Besides, the notion of fluidity stamps the identity of the Israeli who bears within his genes the memory of the once «unwanted» European. As Cohen eloquently expresses it, «Duality expresses in a series of contrasts the deeper dialectic that typifies, if not determines, Jewish identity from the past to the present – the move from exile to a national entity, romanticism and cynicism, revolution and the continuation of Jewish history, the construction and deconstruction of myths.» Reviving links with biblical narrative, as an Israeli critic noted, Oz relates in «A Tale of Love and Darkness» the strange story of a child with an overactive imagination who will one day narrate the tragic marriage of his parents while at the same time witnessing the birth of a new state. The premature death of Oz’s mother at the age of 39 proved to be both inspiration and motivational force. Yet the book is neither documentary nor autobiography. It is a broad and finely worked synthesis through which rushes the entire 20th century, at times impetuous and relentless, at others fragmented and demystified. Oz recounts the obscure life of a talented woman, his mother, in order to speak dramatically but also with self-irony of thwarted lives and unconfessed expectations. Core of life With his complex view of the world and history, Oz weaves together fiction and reality: his mother’s life, reference to political figures, the emergence of a new geopolitical map. Combining autobiography and ethics in an almost missionary but always self-ironic literature, Oz penetrates the core of life, which is why he does not deal solely in action. «Emotion in the work of Oz,» writes Cohen, «does not flow from the depiction of dramatic events or from riveting confessions by the characters, it derives from the subcutaneous, the untold… Without ever attaining dramatic tension or peaks… ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ eventually acquires the force of philosophical speculation on the human condition.»