A Wayward Eulogy

TO THE END OF THE LAND
by David Grossman
Knopf, 2010

In his essay, “Writing in the Dark,” David Grossman says, “I have a distant ally who does not know me, and together we are weaving this shapeless web, which nonetheless has immense power, the power to change a world and create a world, the power to give words to the mute and to bring about tikkun — “repair” — in the deepest, kabbalistic sense of the word.” Grossman tirelessly explores the idea of peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians as a human, one-to-one discovery and dialogue. His fiction too wants to make repair. To The End of the Land, his remarkable 2010 novel, tells of a journey through a family’s past, a love affair between a woman and two men, and a literal hike across the country of Israel, shot through with peaceful homes and beribboned with war zones.

bus

Fearing suicide bombers, Ora begins "randomly riding city buses, as if she could ... deflect the random chances of terror her son faces every day." Illustration by Laura Beckman.

The novel opens in a flashback to 1967. Three Israeli teens — Ora, Ilan and Avram — are recovering from hepatitis in a deserted quarantine ward. Ora and Avram become companions in dark solitude, learning by listening. Avram leads Ora to a third teen, Ilan, in a coma in a hospital bed. From there, the three enter an enduring, complicated, and ultimately saving ménage a trois. Ilan is handsome and mysterious, and Ora falls in love with him on the spot. Avram, shorter, less attractive, feels sidelined. Eventually, he will force Ora to decide which man she will stay with.

In 2000, Ora, now separated from Ilan, estranged from her oldest son Adam, and mourning the re-enlistment of her younger son Ofer in the army’s border guard, sets off on a physically daunting hike across Israel, to escape what she fears is the imminent arrival of soldiers to inform her that Ofer has been killed. In her mind, by walking, “she will be the first notification-refusenik.” Her journey across Israel is a psychic trip back in time, as she recruits her former lover and best friend Avram to accompany her.
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Sean Enright’s poems have appeared in Threepenny Review and Triquarterly, among others. His Lincoln assassination play, "The Third Walking Gentleman," was a semifinalist in the 2007 National Playwright’s Contest at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center.
 

Source Citation

Enright, Sean. 2011. A Wayward Eulogy. Tikkun 26(3).

tags: Books, Israel/Palestine, Reviews   
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