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A Tale of Love and Darkness

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  7,819 ratings  ·  832 reviews
Tragic, comic, and utterly honest, A Tale of Love and Darkness 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 of the forties and fifties, in a small apartment crowded with books in twelve languages and relatives
Paperback, First Harvest Edition, 560 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Harvest / Harcourt (first published 2002)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) I do this with the Diary of Anne Frank--because so many of my students don't know who she is, which amazes me-- and the Spanish translation of St…moreI do this with the Diary of Anne Frank--because so many of my students don't know who she is, which amazes me-- and the Spanish translation of St Therese of Lisieux' "Story of a Soul."(less)

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Average rating 4.22  · 
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 ·  7,819 ratings  ·  832 reviews

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K.D. Absolutely
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2008-2012)
By far, the best book that I've read this year.

It is a long one but worth all the time I spent on it. It is a memoir that begins with Amos Oz (born 1939) birth in Israel and ends with the death of his father. His mother died twenty years earlier than that and in between those two deaths he did not hear from his father anything about his mother; as if his mother did not exist. This novel can be appreciated on three layers: from the macro perspective, it is a tale of Israel as a nation, from the
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
There are books which, after you've read them, would give you this silent thought either that you could have written them yourself or maybe you could write something like them too someday. Then there are those books which would have the opposite effect, similar to what happened to Virginia Woolf after reading Marcel Proust's "Swann's Way" (the first book of "In Search of Lost Time")--her literary urges were paralyzed ("Well," Woolf wrote a friend, "--what remains to be written after that? I'm ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Oz lovers + anyone interested in history of Israel & Palestine; not to ultra-nationalist settlers
Recommended to Quo by: A friend + Guidebooks to Israel/Palestine
A Tale of Love & Darkness by Amos Oz is a most extraordinary book, an exceedingly personal & insightful account of a life that began when Palestine was a British-mandated territory, with the author coming of age as Israel was born. It is a story that vastly transcends the label of autobiography and which manages to encapsulate the extreme complexity of the author's life and the initial 50 years in the life of the state of Israel. I read this book while preparing for a study-tour to ...more
Nandakishore Varma
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
This is one book which I absolutely loved. It's a coming-of-age tale: of the author - and his country.

I had hopes of writing a detailed review; had underlined so many passages, made copious notes and even made a rough outline. But then, I find that I cannot do it. Some books are like that for me - too complex and rich to be analysed.

Amos Oz narrates the tale of his dysfunctional family; his proud and egoistic father and his disturbed and sensitive mother, and himself as the shy and gifted
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in the Middle East
This memoir recounts the author's life in the formative years of the nation of Israel as well as the years leading up to 1948, as well as the lives of his parents and many relatives from various parts of Europe. It's not only the memoir of a child who grew to become a writer and needs to tell of the terrors and memories of his childhood. It's also a memoir of the young state peopled by so many from all over who had lost everything and were desperately trying to build a permanent Jewish home. No ...more
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A moving, intense memoir of the life of this prolific Israel author, tells of life in the Land of Israel from the 1930s until the early 1950s. The author manages to juggle humor and sadness, in a book which does bring to life the Israel of that time. It is circular in nature and not chronological and dwells also on life in Europe for Jews before the re-establishment of the Jewish State. The two problems with the book are the amount of detail can become monotonous and boring and that Oz sometimes ...more
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
OK, the book is completed and I am having difficulty choosing between 4 or 5 stars, so I guess I will choose 4. It is best to save 5 stars for those books that you are sure must get 5! Otherwise 5 stars doesn't mean much! There is a lot to think about in this book. That is why I like the book. It seems to me a very Jewish trait to analyze, discuss and argue about everything. I like that. Nevertheless in this family there were some things that were NEVER discussed. Issues that should have been ...more
Alejandro Teruel
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
It is a crime to try to rush through this richly textured memoir, you have to slow down, you have to savour it and let its images sink in, you have to see, through the eyes of the alien only child that was Amos Oz, the strange melange of old world jews bickering and conjuring up an extraordinary new, yet ancient country, ripping it out of an existing land, dreams centuries old and a great many nightmares of the first half of the twentieth century. It is excruciatingly and painfully honest, ...more
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Although I think the book would have benefited from some tightening, particularly in the last quarter, A Tale of Love and Darkness is a masterpiece.
Ivana Books Are Magic
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If you read this book and didn't like it, we can't be friends. Usually I'm open minded and tolerant when it comes to literature, mainly because I don't believe there is such a thing as one 'correct' reading but in this case I just have to be hopelessly sentimental and treat this novel as it was an actual person and not just a work of art that can be examined and viewed from different perspectives. It is perfectly normal we all have different tastes and hence experience literary works in our own ...more
"Justice without compassion isn't justice; it's an abattoir."

Reading A Tale of Love and Darkness is like watching tiny green shoots pop up from loamy soil. You watch them grow with anticipation, only to see them wither, and then shoot up again to reach new heights. They mature, falter again, and then finally ripen in old age.

In this spellbinding memoir, Amos Oz is one of those little shoots, growing up in the nourishing soil of books, intellectual conversation, and impromptu storytelling. At the
Joey Diamond
Jan 17, 2010 rated it liked it
God there is some good writing in this. I'm obsessed with everything that's said in this description:

"In Jerusalem people always walked rather like mourners at a funeral, or latecomers at a concert. First they put down the tip of their shoe and tested the ground. Then once they had lowered their foot they were in no hurry to move it; we had waited two thousand years to gain a foothold in Jerusalem, and were unwilling to give it up. If we picked up our foot someone else might come along and
I initially bought this book as a birthday gift for a friend, but soon after I changed my mind and didn't want to give it away anymore. It took me a month to read this book, but it was not its fault, it was mine. I am afraid of big books, but I'm proud to say that A Tale of Love and Darkness was the first step toward my rehabilitation. Look, I even got the courage to read Cloud Atlas!

It is also true that this book is not easy to read, as it has no actual plot and some parts are overflowing with
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Are you all right, Mother?"

Depression is a terrible thing. It kills individuals. It destroys families. It is bad enough to lose one's mother at the tender age of twelve. To lose one's mother to suicide must be all the more devastating. Not only does it create a lot of unanswerable questions, it leaves behind a lot of guilt. But depression is treatable. If only there was timely and effective intervention, Amos Oz's mother, Fania Mussman, might have survived beyond her short span of thirty eight
Jan Rice
What would I like to tell you about this book?

You might have thought it was about Israel, that that's what the title means. Well, yes, but it's more about the author's family; more memoir than history, yet solidly grounded in history. I'm in awe that anybody could learn that much about his family, to have listened and remembered and sought out the surviving family and friends of the generations that came before, then channeled them. And, oh, yeah, it's about books, too. And writing. It's about
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Fans of Israeli Literature?
Amos Oz is considered one of the leading lights of Israeli literature and there's buzz he's a candidate for a Nobel Prize. This particular book, his memoir, "was nominated one of the ten most important books since the creation of the State of Israel." And at times I truly can understand why. The man can turn a phrase and some of his insights are as striking as his prose:

That wordatlarge was far away, attractive, marvelous, but to us it was dangerous and threatening. It didn't like the Jews
Robert Cortvriendt
Jun 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I selected this book after reading a news story about a Palestinian lawyer personally financing its translation into Arabic for his friends and family to read, his name is Elias Khoury. He was moved by a personal account through the eyes of a young boy about the birth of Israel, its families and real world strife; he hoped for better understanding between the warring sides. I thought this must be some book. It is.
I've always been cloudy on the subject of the Israeli conflict, who started what,
Stephen Durrant
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
With some books one wants to write a summary or a review, with others one would prefer to sit down with a friend and just read out loud favorite passages. The latter are usually the books we like the best. They are so interesting, provocative, informative or amusing that we just want to share them. Amos Oz's "A Tale of Love and Darkness" is, for me, one such book. Oz is often mentioned, alongside Haruki Murakami, Philip Roth, and Javier Marias as a Nobel Prize favorite. Somehow I do not think ...more
Lisa Lieberman
Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-interest
I have been a fan of Amos Oz for years and years. My Michael and In the Land of Israel are two of my absolute favorite books, and now I understand why they both struck me so powerfully. Oz's life is the stuff of legend, and this book offers an intimate view of Israel's history: all the hopes and struggles of the pioneers, the pain of the diaspora generation, conveyed with honesty and affection.
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This sometimes long and sometimes tedious, yet beautiful and sometimes magical book took me forever to read, but it was worth the effort, a fascinating study of what it was to be a first generation native Israeli with Eastern European parents who narrowly escaped death in the 1930's by moving to the new Jewish nation. Just as in America, immigrant parents could be a trial: Nobody in our neighborhood ever died from consumption or unrequited love or idealism. They were anything but reckless. ...more
May 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book snuck up on me and made me fall in love. I wasn't sure how I felt about it for the first hundred pages or so. I thought the writing was exquisite, but I wasn't sure how interested I was by a story about an only child growing up in his dreamy, book-filled world. But as I kept reading, I found myself pulled further and further into his world. So many poignant details, so many touching family stories, so many tragic human interactions.

Some of my favorite parts:
- The author's mother's
Sometimes we are not in the right mood to read a particular book.
Mary Stergioti
Very difficult book if you do not have time to catch up every day. Too many information with names about author’s family. It’s a no for the time since I have beginned it almorw than a year ago but not being able to read wvwry day due to newborn baby and two jobs makes it really hard to remeber the plot. I guess i eill have to statted over some time in the future.
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Well.... This is a difficult book for me to rate. A beautifully written book, tragic, historic, with long brilliantly descriptive passages, a memoir of amazing times and a boy of incredible talent and sensitivity. Still, often the book was tedious, over-written, repetitive. It took me weeks to finish the book, when most books I devour in a day or two.

A Tale of Love and Darkness is the memoir of a young boy growing up in Jerusalem when it was still under the control of the British and considered
The shelves I have chosen for this book say it well. This beautifully written,thoughtful book is more than the autobiography of a person;it is a deep history of a place, and how that place came to be the city we again know as Jerusalem. In addition are the backstories, of life as it became unlivable for the Jews of mostly Eastern Europe in the generations leading up to 'the final solution' for their troublesome fate.

Oz is a beautiful,lyrical writer. He brings it all alive with an immediacey
Three stars, four stars? It is more than three, but not quite four. Give me a few weeks and I might change that. It probably would have been more if it weren't for long stretches of comma-separated places, or people. And while I can read a bit of a play with the lists the father and son kept it was oft-times overkill, beating me senseless. Yes, I get it, Russian authors, or philosophers. A stylistic irritant for me. There was lots to like though and author memoirs can be a tricky thing. Quite ...more
Yair Ben-Zvi
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
An awesome story that's autobiography and novel, with the central event, the drain that the rest of the narrative seems to circle around, being the suicide of Amos Oz's mother. Though Oz's writing can be a bit too whimsical at times, sometimes attempting to reach into romantic territory, it's still a fantastic and tragic story well worth reading. Something to think about while reading this or at least something i thought about. Amos Oz coming to grips and possibly reconciling himself to what his ...more
Jun 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Truely a book which straddles the fence between a novel and a memoir,and succeeds brilliantly in y opinion. A memoir doesn't always have a central idea of theme and this one really does: his mother's suicide and coming to terms with it, a process in which I suspect this book played an important part. We learn relatively early that his mother committed suicide when he was 12 and that as soon as he could get away, he left his father and joined to Kibbutz to be another kind a Jew in Israel, not a ...more
This was a challenging Hebrew read for me, and I suspect I would have appreciated it more in English. There were moments where I was able to appreciate the beautiful writing, but more often I felt like I was struggling to get through it. This was a long, highly detailed, circuitous memoir, and perhaps not the best choice for reading in my second language.

With that said, I certainly couldn't give this fewer than three stars. Aside from the beauty of the writing, the wealth of detail offered a
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It did take me a while to get going - until chapter 28 it felt like a patchwork of intimate recollections more suited to a diary than to a memoir, with lists of names of family friends and acquaintances orphan of any note or description. They obviously meant a lot to the author, but as a reader I could not "get them" until I was well into the book. And then you will see that this is a very intimate memoir which feels very much like a necessity for Oz, who lays bare thoughts he hasn't shared with ...more
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Reading 1001: A Tale Of Love and Darkness 5 14 Nov 22, 2019 07:21PM  

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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
“There are lots of women who are attracted to tyrannical men. Like moths to a flame. And there are some women who do not need a hero or even a stormy lover but a friend. Just remember that when you grow up. Steer clear of the tryant lovers, and try to locate the ones who are looking for a man as a friend, not because they are feeling empty themselves but because they enjoy making you full too. And remember that friendship between a woman and a man is something much more precious and rare than love: love is actually something quite gross and even clumsy compared to friendship. Friendship includes a measure of sensitivity, attentiveness, generosity, and a finely tuned sense of moderation.” 190 likes
“If you steal from one book you are condemned as a plagiarist, but if you steal from ten books you are considered a scholar, and if you steal from thirty or forty books, a distinguished scholar.” 125 likes
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