Amos Oz

The Legacy of a Writer in Israel and Beyond

Edited by Ranen Omer-Sherman

Subjects: Jewish Studies, Literary Criticism, Biography, Israel Studies
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Jewish Literature and Culture
Hardcover : 9781438492490, 424 pages, March 2023
Paperback : 9781438492483, 424 pages, September 2023

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Table of contents

Introduction: Amos Oz’s Arduous Truths and Ambivalences
Ranen Omer-Sherman


1. Reflections on In the Land of Israel
David Grossman

2. Hannah Gonen . . . and Me: A Personal Essay
Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi

3. The History of a Long Conversation
Nurith Gertz

4. Homeless between Two Homes
Avraham Balaban

5. My Michael, May 1967
Nissim Calderon


6. Maternal Illness and the Israeli Body Politic at War
Nitza Ben-Dov

7. The Little Plot and the Big Plot in Oz’s Early Fiction
Oded Nir

8. Oz’s Literary Genealogies: Salvage Poetics in A Tale of Love and Darkness
Sheila E. Jelen


9. Cat People: Coming of Age in Mr. Levi and Panther in the Basement
Adam Rovner

10. Tilling the Soil of National Ideology: Oz and the Hebrew Environmental Imagination
Eric Zakim

11. On Eternity: Homelessness and the Meaning of Homeland
Liam Hoare

12. The Dialogic Encounter between New and Old: The Biblical Intertext in Oz’s Fiction
Nehama Aschkenasy


13. Oz’s Contentious Journey: In the Land of Israel
Adia Mendelson-Maoz

14. Oz against Himself: Between Political Romanticism and Social Realism in Black Box
Joshua Leifer

15. “Like Belfast, Rhodesia, or South Africa”: Oz and the Ideologies of Oslo
Moriel Rothman-Zecher

16. And They Lived Separately Ever After: The Two-State Solution as Literary Ending
Vered Karti Shemtov


17. Of Howling Jackals and Village Scenes: A Lament
Yaron Peleg

18. Exultation, Disillusionment, and Late Inspiration: Oz’s Once and Future Kibbutz
Ranen Omer-Sherman

19. From Tragedy to Betrayal: Judas and the Subversive Politics of Oz’s Last Act
Sam Sussman

Afterword: About My Father
Fania Oz-Salzberger

Further Reading: Critical Resources in English

Explores the writer's enduring literary and political legacy.


The veteran contributors to this volume take as their central drama, and their essential task for analysis, the enduring literary and political legacy of Israel Prize laureate Amos Oz (1939–2019). Born a decade prior to the establishment of the state of Israel, in what was then Palestine under British rule, Oz's life spanned the country's entire history, and both his fiction and nonfiction restlessly probe and illuminate its fraught conflicts, contradictions, and ambivalences. Throughout his career, Oz grappled frankly with the often-painful realities of Israeli life while also celebrating the ebullience of the Israeli spirit, and his sophisticated understanding of the sociopolitical turmoil of his society was always accompanied by intensely lyrical language and deep penetrations into the vulnerabilities of the human psyche. The volume's twenty contributors bring an exciting diversity of concerns and perspectives to Oz's most celebrated novels (including his powerfully resonant final novel, Judas) as well as to overlooked facets of his oeuvre, illuminating the breathtaking scope of his literary legacy. Together, they offer gripping analyses of his urgent and profoundly universal works about political and romantic dreamers whose heartfelt struggles with both their own human frailties and those of the state ultimately resonate far beyond Israel itself.

Ranen Omer-Sherman is Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence Endowed Chair of Jewish Studies at the University of Louisville. His previous books include Imagining Kibbutz: Visions of Utopia in Literature and Film and Israel in Exile: Jewish Writing and the Desert.


"Both a fitting tribute to Oz and an opportunity for readers to enter the complicated and often torn Israeli psyche … Highly recommended." — CHOICE

"As Oz himself put it: 'Imagining the other is a powerful antidote to fanaticism and hatred.' He saw imagination as 'not only an aesthetic tool' but 'a major moral imperative.' Oz's pursuit of that imperative is a major theme of Amos Oz: The Legacy of a Writer in Israel and Beyond, a collection of illuminating essays on the author edited by Ranen Omer-Sherman." — Wall Street Journal

"Any serious admirer of Amos Oz's extraordinary body of work will find much to ponder and enjoy in this thought-provoking anthology." — Jewish Book Council

"This wide-ranging and important book of essays is a profound reminder of the figure we have lost and the issues that are at stake in the Israel of 2023." — The Jewish Chronicle

"This important and timely volume addresses a lacuna in English criticism on Amos Oz, an author not only central in Israeli culture since the 1960s but also prominently positioned within the mode of world literature. The contributors offer a wide range of approaches to and engagements with Oz, from the scholarly to the personal. They invite us to consider Oz as a masterful author, an eloquent political commentator, and a complex human being." — Karen Grumberg, author of Hebrew Gothic: History and the Poetics of Persecution

"This book reveals Amos Oz's extraordinary oeuvre. Ranen Omer-Sherman takes us on a mesmerizing scholarly journey between different periods and topics in Oz's work. This rich collection of articles does not escape the controversy around the work of Oz, but it rather leverages it into a brave, blunt, and uncompromising discussion not only about Oz's writing but also about Israeli society and the political power of literature. For those of us who are familiar with Oz's novels, this is an invaluable opportunity to reencounter them through the new readings offered in this collection, and for those who are less familiar with his work, this is a unique and festive invitation to enter the complex and rich world of one of the most influential novelists of modern Hebrew literature." — Ilana Szobel, author of Flesh of My Flesh: Sexual Violence in Modern Hebrew Literature

"In chapter after chapter of this collection of essays about Amos Oz, I found myself surprised and excited to encounter a refreshing new array of insights into the life and legacy of this familiar cultural icon. This English-language North American perspective is bound to open up new opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue." — Yael Halevi-Wise, author of The Retrospective Imagination of A. B. Yehoshua