Tag Archives: amos oz

Book Review: Scenes from a Village Life by Amos Oz

Title: Scenes from a Village Life
Author: Amos Oz
Publisher: Chatto and Windus, Random House UK
ISBN: 978-0701185503
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 272
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

Scenes from a Village Life by Amos Oz is not a novel. Neither is it a short-story collection. It is a collection of inter-related tales, which are glimpses of everyday Israeli society and that is what makes this book different.

The tales take place in the fictional village of Tel Ilan, where a lot of strange things start happening to common people. There are eight brilliant, thought-provoking, perceptive and sometimes disturbing vignettes that make this book worth it.

For instance, I can only think of Amos Oz writing the way he does and portraying the puppy love of a seventeen year old boy for a librarian twice his age or for that matter the first story Heirs, which talks of an unusual stranger who arrives at the home of a troubled man, wanting to buy it.

Amos Oz’s stories/tales are not easy to comprehend at the first read. Also there were times I felt that there are emotions that can get lost in translation, however that was not the case that often in this read. Amos Oz cleverly explores the psyche of people in a small village and what they might encounter and make of unusual situations or circumstances. The slice of life element in this book mixed with the touch of fantasy is very well done – both by the author and the translator.

Several stories are meant to be understood, given they are allegorical in nature. At the same time the images and symbolism are quite heavy-handed to be understood by the common reader and need decoding. Scenes from a Village life at the end of the day is more about life in general than anything else. This is a book that aches of the quiet melancholies of life.

As one of the characters says, “Our unhappiness is partly our fault and partly your fault. But your unhappiness comes from your soul. Or from your heart. It’s hard to know. It comes from you. From inside.”

Scenes from a Village Life is not for a rushed read. It needs to be savoured and pondered about for some time. Read it when you have the time and the inclination for this sort of a book.

Affiliate Link:

Buy Scenes From Village Life from Flipkart.com

Advertisements

An Interview with Esther David

So after reading The Man with the Enormous Wings, I had this need to connect with the writer. To ask her questions. To know a little more about the book and her thoughts. Here it is…in the form of this interview!

What gave way to the idea of writing, “The Man with the Enormous Wings”?

During the riots of 2002, my publishers were suggesting that I write a novel and weave it around the earthquake and riots. But, I was so traumatized by the communal riots of 2002,  that I could not. All, I wrote was a poem and a short story, which is used as the last chapter of my novel The Man With Enormous Wings. Then, I did sign a contract to write The Man with Enormous Wings, but it took me ten years to give form to the novel, by concentrating on specific incidents, and people. During this period, I saw how Mahatma Gandhi was forgotten in Gujarat. I thought, he would be the perfect character like Alice in Wonderland, as he grows wings, changes size and keeps on falling between warring groups of people. So, I made him the central character of my novel.

Esther as a person….

Author – Novelist – Storyteller. Always an insider, who is an outsider. Armchair naturalist, armchair anthropologist, armchair artist, armchair art critic.

Esther as a writer…

An artistic dreamer. She has to work very hard to give form to her novels. Has to rewrite many times, till she gets the poetic imagery she wants to create in her work. 

Did you ever feel that you cannot write this book because of the surge of emotions? I for one could not read it at length because it stirred so many feelings in me.

2002 happened around my house. I was witness to many events. It was too close. I could not write. I was also frightened. I am still frightened that it can happen again, so I so long to write.

Esther’s favourite books

The Strange Case of Billy Biswas by Arun Joshi. A thousand years of Solitude – by Gabriel Garcias Marquez. Shame – by Salman Rushdie. Aphrodite – by Isabelle Allende

Esther’s favourite writers…

Gabriel Garcias Marquez, Salman Rushdie, Isabelle Allende, Toni Morrison, Amos Oz.

If you had to describe, “The Man with the Enormous Wings” in one word, what would it be and why?

Unwanted. In the present scenario of Gujarat with its Vibrant Gujarat and ghettoization between communities, there is no place for Mahatma Gandhi and his ideology, meaning The Man With Enormous Wings.

 I loved that the book ended with a lot of hope and optimism. What do you think about it? Will it be like this?

I am just consoling myself, because, most people have forgotten 2002, and, as we say in the Bible – if we forget, it will happen again.

 Your views on today’s literary world…

It gives a writer a wide scope to be read and become known and publishers help in the growth of writers, as long as authors are willing to work hard. Yet, the media needs to focus more on writers who live in India, than expatriate Indian born writers.  

That was this. You can read the review of “The Man with the Enormous Wings” here.

The Man with Enormous Wings; David, Esther; Penguin India; Rs. 199.