Monday, 3 March 2014

Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz (3.5/5)

First published: 2009
Original title: Tmunot Mihayei Hakfar
Original language: Hebrew
Translation to English by: Nicholas de Lange, 2011

Page count: 265

The back says: A teenage son shoots himself under his parents' bed. They sleep that night unaware he is lying dead beneath them.

A stranger turns up at a man's door to persuade him that they must get rid of his ageing mother in order to sell the house.

An old man grumbles to his daughter about the unexplained digging and banging he hears under the house at night.

As each story unfolds, Amos Oz, builds a portrait of a village in Israel. It is a surreal and unsettling place. Each villager is searching for something, and behind each episode is another, hidden story. In this powerful, hypnotic work Amos Oz peers into the darkness of our lives and gives us a glimpse of what goes on beneath the surface of everyday existence.

I say: This is a collection of 8 short stories focusing on different inhabitants of the village Tel Ilan, who all know each other and therefore have little cameos in each story. Although one could read each one independent of the others, you get a few specs of extra information if one reads them in order.

As was intended.

There are certain parts of Oz’s prose that reminded me of The Fall by Albert Camus in that there was something ominous lurking underneath everything being said and reported which forces the reader to pay extra attention. However, at the end of The Fall Camus reveals what lies at the basis of the narrator, Clamence’s monologue, Oz is not as generous – and that is one of the reasons I enjoyed it.

All of the stories end on a haphazard note, which I love because it makes you think what happened beyond the invisible imagined ellipsis.
I must add that one of the reasons I bought this was because I was interested in the story about the boy who shoots himself under his parents' bed; Singing. So it was a disappointment to find out that this story had little to do with the suicide, which was more of an aside.

Either way, 3.5/5 mostly because of the similarities with The Fall and because Oz left me wanting more.

Favourite Stories: Heirs, Digging.

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