Falling out of time by David Grossman

Falling out of time by David Grossman

Hebrew Fiction

Original title –נופל מחוץ לזמן 

Translator Jessica Cohen

Source – Library



Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on,
‘Cause I know I don’t belong
Here in heaven.

I was struck by this song the first time I heard it the same way I was with this book Eric clapton’s Tears in Heaven is also about the loss of a son

I’ve review a book by David Grossman before his wonderful book from a few years ago To the end of the land , which I really enjoyed so when I saw he had a new book out and it had made a few end of year lists including Boyd Tonkin (usually an early sign for the IFFP prize ) .I decide it was time to read a book by him again .Since I last reviewed him , he has been involved in protests about the further settlements in Israeli where he was actually beaten by the police .He lost his own son in 2008 how like most Israelis was serving his military service and was killed in the line of action at just 20 ! .Like the earlier book this one looks at the Grief ,but in a different way .

Woman :

The earth

Gaped open.

gulped us

and disgorged

Don’t go back

There , do not go ,

not even one step

out of the light

Man :

I could not , I dared not

look into your eye,

that eye of

madness ,

into your noneness

a the start when he mentions going home .

Falling into time is one of those books that is hard to pigeonhole in many ways as it is rather like a play with characters names and what they said , but then like a poem with rhyme and rhythm to the words spoke by each of the characters , then there is a story in their as well .The book follows a man and woman as the walk to the place where their son died , as they go along they gather up more people each telling of their own losses along the way almost like a chorus building a nation of stories of sons and children lost as the town they live in comes together in some sort of collective grief as the town all starts to walk along the man and woman .

Walkers :

But they are so

alive ! they flicker

with flash of smiles

with questioning and sorrow ,

as if those longing , desperate faces

wish to try out

every last expression

one more time,

to thereby taste

the potency

of plundered feelings ,

The collective walkers in the story talking as one about the dead .

Now I said hard to place this book the nearest two books to it I can think of are under Milkwood , which is shares a spoken feel  to the words  , this book is one that probably work  best if read a loud to get the full power of Grossman’s prose .The other book I was reminded of was Mr Darwin’s garden that came out a couple of years ago from Peirene press anoother book of voices again set in a small town like this book and like this it also built as the book went along .But unlike them there is little about the place they are in or where they are this is a book about grieving for a son a daughter a bother husband wife etc .Another feeling is almost the words go back to be almost like the words we all know from prayers or bibles with a feeling of repetition to hammer the words and their meaning home to use as the reader  .Heartfelt is what I came away with from the book a real feel of a writer pouring out on the page what he must have felt be feeling since the loss of his own son .But what he has also done with the lack of place and time has turned the grieving into universal grieving so the parents could even be Arab ! .

have you a favourite read about Grief and Death ?



Rhyming life and death by Amos Oz

Rhyming life and death Amos Oz

Rhyming life and death by Amos Oz

Hebrew Literature

Hebrew  title חרוזי החיים והמוות (רומן

Translator – Nicholas De Lange

Source – library

Well I ve read a number of books over the years by Amos Oz I have one under review here ,the Iffp book from 2012 scenes from a village life  its hard to sum up Amos Oz he is probably the best know Hebrew writer of his generation he has won a number of large national and international awards ,his name is frequently mentioned as a future Nobel literature prize winner .he has written 27 plus books in his time covering both fiction and Non fiction .His book have been translated into 36 languages .

These are the most commonly asked questions . Why do you write ? Why do you write the way you do ? are you trying to influence your readers ,and if so how ? what role do your books play ? do you constantly cross out and correct or do you write straight out of your head ?

The opening lines the writer talks about what he may be asked tonight I was reminded of the Peter Kay line about talking to taxi drivers and what we say .Been busy etc .

Well Rhyming life and death is set on one evening in the mid eighties in Tel Aviv ,we meet a writer ,we are never told his name .But it is his story an evening in his life we follow him from a literary event ,and earlier before the event in a  cafe and then to wandering in  the night .The story drifts from the actual events of the evening to the imagination of the writer as he tells himself tales from the world around him  .As we see him answering mundane questions and deeper questions in between the questions he images little stories for the people in the crowd .Then to a cafe where he starts imaging and giving a name to a waitress that is serving him ,he calls her Ricky and sketches a life for her  with himself .He also  turns two gents on another table in the cafe , into a pair of henchmen working for a gangster .These flights of fantasy he has a carefree and full of that middle age  groaning for what life could have been .

While he caresses Rochele he closes his eyes tight and tries to recover lost ground by visualising the outline of Ricky’s underwear , the asymmetric line of her knickers that was visible through her short skirt and caused him so much excitement earlier in the evening ,before the literary event .

The writers thoughts can be racey at times .

I was reminded at times when I read this book  of  the world of Dennis Potters works particularly the singing detective the Lead character is very like the lead character in the singing detective is also a writer and  a daydream .It’s easy to see the writer as Oz himself he was in his mid forties when the book is set .The beauty of Oz is his ability to change styles between books and still keep the reader its easy to write similar books and live in a comfort zone as a writer but Oz never does .I think Oz answers the question Why do you write that is mention on the first page of the book by showing how his imagination works using the unnamed writer as how he maybe uses his skills to construct stories out of the every day .Also I was made to think if a writer at an event looks out and writes tales about the people in the crowd ,Have I ever been noted and written or has any of us ? A short book from Oz but a highly enjoyable one .


Source – Library

David Grossman is a israeli writer ,he served in the israeli army in the 70’s then went on to study philosophy ,he is known as a peace activist having previous being sack from national radio for refusing to downplay the declaration of the Palestine state .he has won numerous award the most famous being the Bialik prize for Hebrew literature .

To the end of the land is the story of Ora and Offer ,mother and son in modern-day Israeli Ora is doing his national service which is drawing to an end much to Ora’s thankfulness .Offer doesn’t return to his mother ,he wants to join a large offensive that is just being mounted .This shocks Ora who panics that the “Notifers” will appear at her door ,she had planned a trip to Galilee across the country with Offer on his release from the army ,she is single he husband and other son having left her she contacts her husband best friend Avram and as it transpires Offer real father to join her on this pilgrimage to avoid what she fears will be Offers death ,as they set off she starts to tell Avram  bit by bit and writing down Offers life as if the act is a way of keeping her son alive so we hear Offers life unfold through his loving mothers eyes ,as Avram tries to support the women he was once so close to .

Where was I

He fell .

oh she groans in painful surprise,the air slashed out of her in one sweep .Don’t say that .

I wasn’t thinking .I’m sorry Ora

No it’s okay .You should know that when I talk about him with you ,He’s alright .He is protected

How ?

I don’t know .Thats what I feel .He is preserved .


Does that sound crazy ?


should I tell you more ?


tell me more ,about him

about Offer

This is were we find what talking about Offer means to Ora .

Right now here is the most important bit about this book ,after the first draft Grossman lost his own son in an attack whilst he was serving his national service  ,so the emotions in this book are very realistic ,as he was struggling with his own grief .It deals with parental love ,war and the bond between old lovers .Ora is in some ways Grossman and Ora in some ways is his son .If you want a story that touches your heart this is it ,especially when you know the story of Grossman own son .This of all the Israeli books dealing with the Palestinian conflict and its effects on everyday life in Israeli.

The book was translated by Jessica Cohen a well known translkator from Hebrew .

world cup wishes by Eskhol Nevo


Eshkol Nevo

Notes –

Eshkol is an Israeli writer ,he is related to Levi Eshkol the third prime minster of israeli,he teaches creative writing at the university of tel Aviv ,he has written two novels his first received widespread recognition when published this is his second novel .his last book spent over 50 weeks on the Israeli bestseller list .

The book –

we start in 1998 four friends are sat watching the world cup final when one of them Amichai  suggests ,why don’t they make wishes where or what they want in four years time in the next world cup . these four guys grew up together and have closeness ,as the story unfolds we see them have successes and failures grow apart at times but in the end  grow closer always chatting to one another and helping each other out  when they can ,whilst the everyday life of modern israeli unfolds as a backdrop . The wishes in the end play second fiddle to the friendship of these four guys .but in a mad dash Ofir writes and  self publishes a book in time for the world cup finals .all this back to the music of the chameleons .

What i was thinking he said ,is that each of us should write down on a piece of paper where he dreams of being in another four years . Personally ,professionally . In every sense .And at the next world cup ,we ll open the papers and see what happened in the meantime

The idea for the wishes from Amichai near the start of the book .



my view –

This book is the second football related book i ve read in  the last week ,but in this book the football is really a framing for the novel and gives it a definite start and finish ,the main think in this book is friendship and the stress of modern life in israeli with all that entailed at the turn of the millennium .Eshkol wonderfully drags you into the world of these guys you feel your sat with them as they chat away ,you have to give praise to th translator Sondra Silverston who has done a wonderful job of translating from the original hebrew ,its nice to see a book about male friendship that isn’t about army or gangs ,the characters are realistic and I would imagine based on Eshkol’s own friends in some way .A great pre world cup read .

Links –

a video of eshkol on panel at pen usa last month

November 2015
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