To the End of the Land
By David Grossman
Translated by Jessica Cohen
Alfred A. Knopf, 2010, 577 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - February 28, 2011
David Grossman is considered by many critics to be one of the top three Israeli writers; the two others are A. B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz. Grossman has received many well-deserved writing awards. Like Yehoshua and Oz, Grossman is opposed to war. He sees Palestinians as human beings. He frequently tries to encourage other Israelis to find a way to achieve peace. He highlights the terrible dehumanizing costs of war. He depicts the hideous surrealism and its psychological effect on his country at siege. His writings are vivid and disturbing. They made Grossman one of the leaders of Israel's left. They caused many Israelis to hate him, hatred that continues today. He still receives threats from fellow Jews. Readers may want to read the excellent analysis of Grossman and his writings in George Packer's article "The Unconsoled," in the September 27, 2010 edition of The New Yorker.
He describes these feelings in this epic by showing the thinking and the reactions of an Israeli mother who is agonizing about her son, an Israeli soldier. Is he safe? Will he come home? How can she help him? How can she sleep? How, indeed, can she live?
Many people reviewed this book. Some felt it was too long. Some wanted more action. Others recognized, as they should, that this is not a book that one buys to read on the beach. It isn't a crime novel with little depth. It's a work of art. It's a book that should prompt readers to think.
Sometimes the horrors of reality intrude upon fiction, as it did with Grossman. As he was finishing his book, his son, a soldier, and the others in his tank, was killed by a bomb during the Lebanon war.