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Between Friends

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  2,282 ratings  ·  266 reviews
'On the kibbutz it's hard to know. We're all supposed to be friends but very few really are.'

Amos Oz's compelling new fiction offers revelatory glimpses into the secrets and frustrations of the human heart, played out by a community of misfits united by political disagreement, intense dissatisfaction and lifetimes of words left unspoken.

Ariella, unhappy in love, confides i
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 2nd 2013 by Chatto & Windus (first published 2012)
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Jun 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I watched Natalie Portman’s A Tale of Love and Darkness last year, which is based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Israeli author Amos Oz. But this collection of eight short stories was my first read by the author and now I'm intrigued to find more of his works.

Amos Oz's compelling new fiction offers revelatory glimpses into the secrets and frustrations of the human heart, played out by a community of misfits united by political disagreement, intense dissatisfaction and lifetime
Eight short stories, situated in an Israeli kibbutz, in the 1950s, thus in the pioneering years of the Jewish state. I must admit that I wasn’t really familiar with the kibbutz model; I knew that it was a form of collective working and living, mostly inspired by marxism and focused on self-sufficiency. Amos Oz makes that image much more concrete, but in a way that is not very flattering for the big ideals. Gradually, the kibbutz community appears to be really suffocating, erasing the individuali ...more
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Cathrine
This is a quick-reading collection of interrelated stories that are deeply affecting despite their superficial simplicity. The themes of loneliness and the lack of true friendship on a kibbutz, where everyone is supposedly friends, and of individuality-versus-the-collective become more complex and thought-provoking as one reads on.

The stories of certain characters, such as the five-year-old boy who is bullied mercilessly in the children's house, become almost poetic in parts, but only rarely. T
This spare and elegant little book from Israeli author Amos Oz is composed of eight interlocking stories that begin with the heralding of deaths – and ends with a real one. Yet its real theme is not the deaths of individuals as much as it is the death of a utopian dream.

That dream: kibbutz life, based on social and economic parity. Or, to put it another way, the whole has to be greater than the sum of its parts. In reality, a life without self-fulfillment and self-actualization is a life of self
"Marx is their Talmud."

Life on a kibbutz, an Israeli utopian, agricultural community, in the 1950s was an ideological powder keg. Less than a decade after Israel's independence and the atrocities committed during the war, leftist Israelis envisioned a life of socialist community, where workers were allocated jobs and living quarters and children were raised communally.

The idea of the kibbutz is incredibly compelling for me: communal dependence, a dedication to work and learning, the building of
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first glance, the book is an Israeli version of Dubliners, with the same idea of a small community of people living a closed life. Moreover, the books share the themes of the constricting mundane routine and the obsession of escaping this closed circle.
What I particularly like about this book is Amos Oz's intelligent, mature and ironic style and how behind the ordinary, petty lives of his characters lies life in all its tragedy, loneliness and inexorability.
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
On our kibbutz, Kibbutz Yekhat, there lived a man, Zvi Provizor, a short fifty-five year old bachelor who had a habit of blinking. He loved to transmit bad news: earthquakes, plane crashes, buildings collapsing on their occupants, fires and floods.

With these opening two sentences I am there. I know exactly who Zvi Provizor is, and I know who we're dealing with in the opening story of Amos Oz's latest collection of short stories. These are a series of eight vignettes set in a fictional collective
Maria Carmo
I am only sorry that I only found out this Author after his death. For he is, indeed, a great writer and a wonderful Humanist. Reading his short stories - all apptly intertwined so we meet the same characters in diferent stories and that give us an overall view of the Kibutz - one gets the notion that Humanity, however flawed, deserves lo and will become better.
This is exactly the opposite of what I felt reading Clarice Lispector or Hillary Mankel... they bring about what seems to be the worst
Loes Dissel
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Eight stories touching me deeply. Each one written with so much empathy for the individual. The idealist, the sceptic, the hard working struggler.
Moving stories from a really great writer.
Barbara H
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
It occurs to me when I read a book written by a non-English speaking author, that its success is highly dependent on the skills of the translator. Generally I do not seek short stories for my reading pleasure, but as I read these stories, I find that I am lured into a sense of fascination by the rhythm of the narrative. So I believe that the translation, skillfully rendered by Sondra Silverston helped enhance the writing.

These all take place in a kibbutz in the early 1950's, when Israel as a sta
Erez Davidi
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“Between Friends” is a wonderful collection of short stories about the Kibbutz during the days before they lost the “Kibbutz spirit” and later on privatized.

All the stories are interwoven and take place at the same Kibbutz. Oz did a great job at capturing the essence of the Kibbutz. There are all the typical Kibbutz stories of the outsider kid that comes to study in the Kibbutz and finds it hard to fit in, the man who leaves his wife for another woman (quite problematic in a place where everybod
Dec 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish, israel
"In ten or twenty years," Nina said,"the kibbutz will be a much more relaxed place. Now all the springs are tightly coiled and the entire machine is still shaking from the strain. The old-timers are actually religious people who left their old religion for a new one that's all just as full of sins and transgressions, prohibitions, and strict rules. They haven't stopped being true believers; they've simply changed one belief. System for another. Marx is their Talmud." (P. 143) ...more
Jul 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
Love this :-) ! Will be looking for more by him!
Simplicity and humanity at its best. The micro-cosmos of the fictitious Kibbutz Yekhat with its specific but mostly universal problems is a great setting for exploration of the human condition.
This was a lovely introduction to the works of Amos Oz. Can't wait to read more of him.

'Luna said, “Why do you take all the sorrows of the world on your shoulders?”
And Zvi replied, “Closing your eyes to the cruelty of life is, in my opinion, both stupid and sinful. There’s very little we can do about it.
To Osnat, who brought him a covered plate and a covered cup from the dining hall every evening, he said, “Man is basically good and generous and decent. It’s the environment that corrupts us.”
Osnat said, “But what is the environment if not other people?"

Do you have headaches often? Well I do. No, not very often, at least not these days, but there was a time when it used to be a very regular phenomenon - when I was growing up. Also, are you the kind that reads with music on? I am, and I've been t
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Reader asks himself:

What made you want to read “Between Friends”?

I am curious about life in intentional communities, how they succeed or fail or just persist. In particular, I am interested in attempts to live together without the overlay of religion, as in the kibbutz depicted in this book. Also, I greatly enjoyed “A Tale of Love and Darkness” by the same author, Amos Oz.

Did the book meet your expectations?

Having read Amos Oz before, I knew that he writes the ordinary moments in human lives
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
As someone else said in their review, this is an elegant little book. It is a series of stories with many of the same characters shared throughout. It is not fraught with emotion and drama but tells simple stories about lives in flux. Although there is sadness and death and frustration Oz describes it calmly and the characters accept their lives and their stories with resignation. Unfortunately, there is not much happiness described--and the happiness is fleeting. But, the stories feel real and ...more
Laurie Gordon
Apr 20, 2014 rated it liked it
My first encounter with Oz, and as I love short stories, it was a fitting beginning. The characters are not quite perfectly described but the mood of kibbutz life is skilfully captured. A fatalistic thread runs through this collection as one ponders the decaying of dreams, the strength of commitment and the inevitability of human relationships. These people seem real, yet their lives march to a self-imposed unreality, These are small portraits from a larger canvas and I was left wanting more - n ...more
Jun 06, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Everything in this book about how a kibbutz was run was of great interest to me, but altogether this collection is disappointingly slight from somebody of Oz's stature. Some of the stories emphasize the rigidity of the kibbutz, even sometimes its cruelty (as when a father is prevented from protecting his timid son from the bullying of more rambunctious kids), while others highlight its idealism and efficiency. This makes for a balanced but somewhat tepid assessment. None of the characters is par ...more
Kenneth Iltz
Dec 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books
Amos Oz was born in Jerusalem and lived in a kibbutz for 36 years. He is one of the most influential and well-regarded intellectuals in Israel. He is an advocate for a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Between Friends is a collection of eight interconnected short stories about life in a kibbutz in the 1950’s. Amos Oz is a masterful writer. Not a word is wasted. Reminiscent of Hemmingway’s sparse writing style. I highly recommend this book.
John Benson
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
These interlocking stories about some of the distinct characters who lived in a 1950s fictional Israeli kibbutz help bring out the nuances of each of the individuals and helped me understand the nature of life in the distinct society of a kibbutz. I really liked how Amos Oz brought out the humanity of each of the people in his stories in a very gentle way, while bringing out big questions that go far beyond the borders of this fictional kibbutz.
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
loved the book, 8 stories about people living on a kibbutz and their struggles with daily life and the great ideals the kibbutz was built upon. so much sadness and regret and so much empathy for the characters. I read a story a day and did not want it to end - it was such a treat.
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A is a collection of interrelated short stories, describing the lives of the people living on a kibbutz just after the establishment of Israel.

Although a very easy-read, it is touchy and heartwarming.
Justin Green
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very humane writer, easy to read. I'd like to be able to read something of his in Hebrew one day. Reminded me in some ways of David Malouf, whose writing also melds inner and outer worlds and has a lot of feeling for the characters. ...more
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interconnected short stories about a Kibbutz in Israel in the 1950's. Interesting, moving, and thought-provoking but like most short story collections, I find, not always satisfying. ...more
Farah Firdaus
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first Israeli literature, written by one of the Israel's most celebrated writers and it didn't disappoint. Between Friends consist of 8 interlinked short stories which explores life on a kibbutz (a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture - Wiki) in Israel in the late 1950s.

Beautifully written and translated. Loved how the lives of the various characters and stories intertwined to give a picture of kibbutz life from the perspective of various generations - w
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is amazing how a book sometimes can touch you deep in the soul. Stories about friendship, love, ideals and how people deal with all that in a kibbutz, where privacy is non existing, are so simple in a way but so deep actually. I couldn’t just move from one to another, I needed a break between them, to think of what I’ve just experienced.
So now, some time after I’ve read the last one the only ting I can think about is how it looks like that we people, no matter where and no matter experiences
Berit Lundqvist
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Slow and thoughtful tales about the members of a kibbutz in Israel in the 1950’s. The book consists of a number of loosely connected short stories. Amos Oz introduces us to a number of very different people walking in and out of each other’s lives and stories. People who are supposed to be friends and work together for a greater good, but as best could be considered to be colleagues, have to spend their entire lives together. No big drama. The days go by and form those short intervals that we ca ...more
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Short stories about community (Israeli people) in Kibbutz Yekhatz. Well written plot. But sometimes I feel a bit emotional. It seems there is unequality between men and women at the Kibbutz. Women there Must work at the kitchen, laundry, nursery etc. They cannot wear make up and such. Their children cannot live together with the parents. Some people thinks it is wrong to have feelings like love and affection. And these people cannot leave the Kibbutz. All actions must have agreements from the co ...more
Shira Reiss
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: israeli-novel
Excellent book! This book is a collection of 8 linked short stories about kibbutz life in the 1950's after the War of Independence. Amazing writing using succinct language. My husband and I read these short stories aloud together. If one does not understand early kibbutz life based on the principal of socialism, these short stories will explain it. It made me understand why the kibbutz failed in the next generation... not enough room for individuality. Highly recommend it! ...more
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Amos Oz (Hebrew: עמוס עוז‎; born Amos Klausner) was an Israeli writer, novelist, journalist and intellectual. He was also a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba. He was regarded as Israel's most famous living author.

Oz's work has been published in 42 languages in 43 countries, and has received many honours and awards, among them the Legion of Honour of France, the Goethe P

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“Closing your eyes to the cruelty of life is, in my opinion, both stupid and sinful. There's very little we can do about it. So we have to at least acknowledge it.” 7 likes
“We could talk about totally different things. Like the seasons of the year, for example, or even the star-filled sky of these summer nights: I'm interested in stars and nebulas. Maybe you are, too?” 7 likes
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