@The Source Israel heard Amos OzThe
Same Sea (Harcourt Brace, October 2001) at the Jewish Community Center
of Greater Washington. Oz was introduced to the crowd of mostly older Israelis
as a literary hero, a prolific writer, and a winner of the coveted Israel
Prize, as well as the French Prix Femina and the 1992 Frankfurt Peace Prize.
read from his latest book,
Oz, born in Jerusalem in 1939, now
lives in Arad and teaches at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. He has been
a visiting Fellow at Oxford and a visiting professor at Princeton. Dressed
in a brown turtleneck and sports coat, Oz said that the “news are not awful”
despite the reports from CNN. He urged the audience not to be completely
devoted to the news broadcasts but to leave time to experience the entire
range of human emotions from love to loneliness. “Otherwise,” Oz said, “we
have given in to the fanatics who seek complete attention to their cause.”
The Israel that hardly ever makes it to the news broadcast, “is an Israel
where people are tempermental, noisy, hedonistic and secular to the bone.
Israelis are great talkers and poor listeners, a country of 6.5 million prime
ministers! I love Israel,” Oz said, “even when I cannot stand it!”
Oz spoke about the “great and simple
things” in life such as loss, love, loneliness, rage, compassion. Oz took
five years to write The Same Sea and he even went to Cypress alone
to be able to concentrate on it. But there at the end of each day of writing,
he found himself making notes and sketches, writing verse and rhymes and
he realized that this was how the book had to be written, not only to tell
a story, but also to “sing and dance.” His goal became to write a novel taken
back to its “gutsy roots of shameless storytelling”. It is also a very personal
story, at once both fiction and confession. The story is set in Bat Yam
and tells the story of a prodigal son, his beautiful girlfriend, his father,
sex and ghosts. The tale transcends politics and tells of the possibilities
of more than forgiveness, but indeed of momentary communion between enemies.
But it is not a political book and Oz pleaded with the audience not to read
it as a political text.
Text by D. Rosenbloom.