A Tale of Love and Darkness

By Amos Oz,

Book cover of A Tale of Love and Darkness

Book description

Tragic, comic, and utterly honest, this bestselling and critically acclaimed work is at once a family saga and a magical self-portrait of a writer who witnessed the birth of a nation and lived through its turbulent history. It is the story of a boy growing up in the war-torn Jerusalem…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked A Tale of Love and Darkness as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I love this novel for its ability to describe a very small world as if it were the most important place in the universe. It captures perfectly the way in which people, visited by enormous tragedy, are able to reconstruct lives that are full of richness and humor. 

The Israeli novelist Amos Oz writes a heartbreakingly beautiful memoir of his family’s escape from Eastern Europe and his growing up in British-controlled Palestine.

I’m haunted as much by the portrait of his gorgeous, tragically romantic mother as by his own experiences as a boy and then as a member of a kibbutz in the new State of Israel. The qualities of Love and Darkness intertwine as unrelentingly in his family’s life as they do in the founding and growth of the Jewish state, making this book as incisive an inquiry into the soul of a writer as into the…

Oz’s moving tale of growing up in the conflicted city of Jerusalem is a welcome antidote to all those thick history books that put the gritty truth of the city at a safe distance.

For him, memory is “like ripples in water or the nervous quivering of a gazelle's skin in the moment before it takes flight.” This is the personal story of a boy trying to make sense of the collision of cultures in which he is raised, amid bad jokes and bombings, struggling to come of age amid violence and loneliness. Lyrical, sad, and tender.

From Andrew's list on grasping the conflict over Jerusalem.

A Tale of Love and Darkness is a beautifully written memoir of Amos Oz’s childhood during the period when the British Mandate was concluding and the State of Israel was being established.

Amos Oz moved to Jerusalem shortly before Wasif Jawhariyyeh departed. The book primarily focuses on his personal experiences, his family, and particularly his relationship with his mother, who battles with depression. These are retold against the backdrop of momentous historical events notably the conflict between the different communities.

From Graham's list on helping understand Jerusalem.

This book is both a coming-of-age memoir for the author and the State of Israel. It’s a masterpiece! I was holding my breath (and had tears streaming down my face) as I read his description of the night the neighborhood gathered by the radio to listen to the UN vote on establishing a Jewish state.

From Lori's list on Jewish books you'll ever read.

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