Khirbet Khizeh by S.Yizhar


This is considered a modern classic of Hebrew Literature ,written in the dying embers of the Israeli war of independence ,it was an instant bestseller in Israeli we had to wait to 2008 and the american publication and this year the uk publication of a translation .S.Yizhar was a serving officer in the intelligence officer in the Givati brigade one of the six division that fought in the war of independence .He later served in the Israeli parliament Knesset for the Rafi Party .This book was described by David Grossman  .

S.Yizhar gave us ,the Israelis ,the language to speak about war and its price .No one did so with such courage ,such trenchant honesty and such literary genius .

High words of praise from David Grossman .

The book opens a troop are asked to clear a village of its Palestine residents ,this village they find is called Khirbet Kizeh ,this expulsion is told through the eyes of the narrator of the book .Hew and his fellow solders move on into the village and start moving its residents ,angry men and women on out of the village , Yizhar catches this scene of absolute chaos and madness with clear prose and panache ,what could easily been over the top in a less skilled hand the horrific scene is turned into something poetic and thoughtful .The Narrator struggles as the day unfolds ,how his fellow troop of six men go from cheerful guys to dour stern-faced chaps ,although there is no violence the is always a sense that there may be ,as they view the silent war beaten residents of the village leaving their homes ,this is a heartbreaking scene and the Narrator struggles to comprehend the reasons for this   force evacuation and questions why they are doing and did this ,there is a harrowing scenes when they find two older women by the side of the road that are mistreated by the men in the heat of the moment .

Long live Hebrew Khizeh ! who then ,would ever imagine that once there had been some Khribet Khizeh that we emptied out and took for ourselves ,we came ,we shot ,we burned ,we blew up ,expelled ,drove out and sent into exile .

what in god’s name were we doing in this place .

The narrator questioning his actions after the expulsion of the village .

The Grossman quote is fitting ,this book is like the opposite side of his” to the end of the land” ,this is like the son’s experiences if the story was set fifty years earlier ,war is war the same now as it was 1949 .This book is a set text in Israeli schools and is considered the first true account of the war of independence from the hebrew point of view . Yizhar’s epic Days of Ziklag is probably due a translation into english this 1200 page epic is the follow on to the wonderful novel also about the war the experience is expanded out to seven days ,I hope one day it is I will for one be front of the cue for it .

Winston’s score –

The return of Winston’s score is because I love the Israeli dog the Canaan ,like this book and its narrator  it is a survivor  and symbol of Israeli .

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Book Whisperer
    Jan 21, 2011 @ 21:23:47

    Hurray, another book for me to check out pronto! I love that you’re reading so many Israel / Palestine books at the moment, Stu – it’s giving me some great books to add to my TBR shelf.


  2. amymckie
    Jan 21, 2011 @ 22:19:56

    Sounds like an interesting book Stu, thanks for the review!


  3. Amanda
    Jan 23, 2011 @ 16:32:11

    This sounds very interesting. I love literature fromt his part of the world, especially as my sister lives in Palestine.


  4. Trackback: What are we missing ?(2) Days of ziklag « Winstonsdad's Blog
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January 2011


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