Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Amos Oz Two New Yorker Short Stories Project 196 Isreal

"Waiting" (2008, 5 pages)
"Heirs" (2007, 6 pages)

Project 196

Country 13 of 196
Amos Oz

  1. Georgia 
  2. Canada
  3. U. S. A.
  4. The Republic of Korea
  5. Antigua and Barbuda 
  6. Haiti
  7. Trinidad and Tobago 
  8. Ukraine
  9. Cameroon
  10. Botswana
  11. Sudan
  12. Dominica 
  13. Israel
f you are an author and want to represent your country, please contact me.  If you want to do a guest post on your favorite story for the feature please contact me also.

If you are a publisher that has an anthology that is done in the 196 spirit, please contact me as I will be spotlighting appropriate collections.  

At first I thought I was setting myself an impossible task but a bit of research has made me optimistic  that I can find a short story from all 196 countries in the world.   I feel this part of the project will be completed.   I also hope to publish a contemporary short story from an author from all 196 countries and I know this is a crazy idea.

Yesterday I was looking at the year end best reads post on Parrish Lantern, a great blog I have been following for a long time, and when I read the glowing comments on a short story collection by Amos Oz, a very highly regarded Israeli writer, I decided that if I could find one of his short stories online then I would post on his work for the Israeli story for Project 196.  I was happy to discover that The New Yorker has two of his short stories in their free to the public archives.  As much as I can I am trying to post on short stories that can be read online.  (I will provide links at the end of my post.)

The stories are both set in a small town or village in Israel, they are about the same length,  both written originally in Hebrew and both center on a strange unresolved event that interrupts the routines of people with seemingly normal well arranged lives.  The central figure is left confused and in a state of anxiety about what will happen next.  The stories end with the central characters waiting to have their lives changed.

"Waiting" centers on the life of a government administrator and his school teacher wife.  They have twin daughters.  The only person on stage in the story in the husband.   They first meet in college.   Their lives are well ordered and, they have their issues like most of us do, but basically they seem happy enough.  Then one day his wife, very much a routinized woman, is late getting home from school.  Oz does a wonderful job of building the anxiety in the mind of the low key husband.  For sure I felt I was being shown something real in this perfectly narrated tale.  

"Heir" is the stranger story of the pair, I cannot really say which one I like best.  The central figure in this story is a man in at least late middle age.  His wife of decades left him with little or no explanation and moved to California.   He sold his marital house and now lives with his ninety year old mother, in need of regular care.  One day a stranger arrives.  At first the man tells him he does not buy from door to door salesmen but the man says he is there on a matter of business that will be personally important to him.   He is very vague as to what he is talking about.   He seems to represent someone or other but he does not really let on why he is there at all openly.  He seems to know more than he should about the man and his family.  What happens at the end of the story is very strange,on the surface it makes little sense and it certainly raises many more questions than it answers.

Both of these stories are totally worth reading.   

"Waiting" can be read here

"Heir" can be read here.

Author Data

Amos Oz (Hebrew: עמוס עוז) (born May 4, 1939, birth name Amos Klausner) is an Israeli writer, novelist, and journalist. He is also a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba. Since 1967, he has been a prominent advocate and major cultural voice of a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Oz's work has been published in some 41 languages, including Arabic in 35 countries. He has received many honours and awards, among them the Legion of Honour of France, the Goethe Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award in Literature, the Heinrich Heine Prize and the Israel Prize. In 2007, a selection from the Chinese translation of A Tale of Love and Darkness was the first work of modern Hebrew literature to appear in an official Chinese textbook.

Israel, with a population of 7.5 million was created as a Jewish state by United Nations mandate in 1948.  It is surrounded by enemies.  

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