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Panther in the Basement

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,516 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Jerusalem 1947. British soldiers patrol the streets, and bullets and bombs are a nightly occurrence. Caught up in the fervour and unrest against the occupying forces, 12-year old Proffy dreams of being an underground fighter. But some of his dreams are less heroic. Temptation lurks everywhere for the youth who wants to be a man - and betrayal not far behind.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published August 7th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1995)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  1,516 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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Bob Newman
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: jewish-topics
Does justice lurk in your basement?

The British are still occupying Palestine. The declaration of the state of Israel is a few months away. Twelve year old Proffy roams about Jerusalem fantasizing madly. He’ll be a hero of the Underground, he’ll blow up the Parliament in London, he and the FOD (“Freedom or Death”---membership: 3 kids) will drive out the occupiers singlehandedly.

It was the time when the survivors of Hitler’s genocide poured into Palestine and determined that such events would no
Ivana Books Are Magic
Sep 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This short novel tells a story from a perspective of a young boy growing up in a complex world. Obviously, there are many autobiographical elements in it. As seems to be a rule with Oz’s writings, Panther In The Basement is beautifully written. The writing style is a tad bit simpler than some of the other Amos’ works, possibly because it is written from a perspective of a child. It may also be that it was written with a view of a younger audience, but it is nevertheless, a suitable read for adul ...more
Alina Maria Cristea
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Although seemingly a light read, "Panther in the basement" deals with serious topics such as betrayal, the British mandate and the creation of the state of Israel, seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old whose mature yet innocent perspective on life is endearing.

The book is structured as a recollection of childhood events around an important moment in the history of Israel, resembling thus "A tale of love and darkness", which is by far my favorite of Amos Oz's books.
Jonas Pojdl
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Charming and well written, Panther In the Basement deals with very adult subject matters, through the eyes of an intelligent and imaginative 12 year old named Proffy. The many faces of conflict in the formative years of the Hebrew State are all here as characters and the story has a large overarching themes of honor, honesty and nationalism.
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a delightful and marvelously entertaining book. I read it on the recommendation of a friend of mine, who read it in English. I read the original Hebrew version. It may have been intended for young adults. Oz has a number of such books, most of which concentrate on his growing up in Jerusalem; most written in a lighter, less erudite style than the one he usually chooses. This tells the story of the bookish Proffy (nickname for Professor), a six-grader who imagines that he's lik ...more
This is an interesting story about a young boy living in Jerusalem who "befriends" a soldier, part of the British occupying force before Israel became a recognized country. I put befriends in quotation marks because Proffi, the boy, really wants to ferret out information from the soldier, which might be useful to his little "resistance" group (which has nothing to do with the real Underground). But the other members of his group find him out and brand him a traitor.

The story has no ending, at le
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: life-stages, kirkus, hf, israel
This is a delightful, amusing,short coming of age story. After reading A Tale of Love and Darkness you clearly recognize that this too is about the author himself. Of the two I guess I prefer the memoir, but you get a quick glimpse of the author and his writing style in this shorter book. Such imagination! Such love of books! I also like how the author circles around and around a subject, going deeper and deeper into the core - the writing is never linear. His physical description of temptation ...more
Oct 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
While the story was a sweet coming of age story with well drawn characters, wasn't Ben Hur also reflective of Israel as a dominating occupying force in the years since '67 and the protagonist reflective of the Israeli intelligentsia who might have their doubts but also would do anything for the approval and acceptance of the "Ben Hurs"?

Loved the character of Yardena, Ben Hur's older, beautiful, lusty sister who tells the protagonist that Ben Hur will have many women but not on really intimate t
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
It is a boyhood story tinted by a thin air of melancholy and nostalgia. Incredibly funny. Troubled times and gentle souls. Every now and then, a sense of agitation is felt through the steady flow of unrest, yet once and again, a sense of relief and absolution arises from simply looking into this young boy's clear eyes. ...more
Kevin Keating
I liked that it was about an interesting setting (post WW2 British-occupied Palestine). There were some suspenseful moments but lots of boring stuff too. Overall not that great really.
Edina Borbenyi
Feb 13, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was waiting for something to happen in this book, but the only thing that happened is that I finished it.
Cooper Cooper
Jul 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
Oz’s novel is set in 1948 Palestine just before the birth of Israel. The Jews are agitating for their own country, the UN is stalling, and the British are trying to enforce peace between the Jews and the Arabs, even though the latter are expected to launch an attack the instant the UN sanctions the creation of a Jewish state. To the Jews, both the occupying British and the menacing Arabs are enemies. The book’s narrator is reminiscing about this volatile period, when at age twelve he and his tw ...more
Mar 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-time-favs
Enjoyable in the vein of Harrison & Atwood, Vonnegut & Heller but through a child's eye. ...more
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Attack in Jerusalem...Suicide bombings...Reoccupation of West bank...Bush proposal for Palestinian State...

Yes - the headlines are horrendous... and, as an American Jew, there are times when I find myself questioning my feelings toward the situation in Israel. ...That is until a book such as this, as told through the eyes of the 12-year-old son of 2 Holocaust survivors, comes along reminding me of the importance of Israel to Jews all over the world!

Panther in the Basement is set in in 1947 Briti
Oct 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Oz’s novel is set in 1948 Palestine just before the birth of Israel and is narrated by a 12-year-old boy. He and his imaginative friends form an alliance to work together to defeat Britain, but "Proffy" is determined by his peers to be a traitor because of his friendship with an awkward British soldier.

Proffy's parents, both Holocaust survivors, respond differently to the tragedies around them. Now and then his mother has quiet words of wisdom,e.g., "To love is not to be a traitor."

Father: "..
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
What I could see right away is that this is an author that is good with words. There is just something effortless in the way he writes.

This short (at least in comparison with other works that I'm reading) novel was quite easy to read. Actually I'd finished it before the opera that I was listening to was finished so that's like hour and a half...what else to say? I really enjoyed this warm and autobiographical account of a child growing up in a complex world. that is a women that giv
Sep 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is set in in 1947 British-occupied Palestine and narrated by 12 year-old boy. While getting used to Oz's style and the oft-time awkwardness with translations (Israeli to English) I grew into this book, enjoying it more and more with each turn of the page, and was most enamored with many of his descriptions, such as :
- of his father's book collection ( begins on p. 96). AMAZING!
- a sneeze (p.113)
- Yardena in the kitchen (begins on p. 122)

This book is well worth the read just for thes
Lara Vehar
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book may be short - but it was sure fun to read.

The story takes place in Jerusalem during the time when Britain soliders were occupying it. The main character of the story is 12 years old Proffy who describes what is like to live in those times. He manages to befriend a British solider - Sergeant Dunlop.

There was a movie made after this book - Little traitor - it's one of my absolutely favourite movies though it's rather different than book since some things were added to the movie that w
Lauren Albert
Jun 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
A 12 year old Jewish boy struggles with the concept of loyalty after he befriends an awkward British soldier during the British Mandate. Lovely look at a young boy's life from his precocious perspective. "Anyone who loves," says his mother, "isn't a traitor." ...more
Jan 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful memoir. What an incredible writer. Myriad of issues, ideas and questions are raised in this coming of age story.
Nov 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
A wonderful glimpse into the fictional world of a child growing up in occupied Palestine, on the eve of the birth of Israel.
Saleem Khashan
Dec 05, 2009 rated it did not like it
bad writing boring and slow
Jan 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Layer upon layer of deceptively simple prose. This is an amazingly written young adult novel.
Jean Kelly
Mar 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Story of the 1948 war from the point of view of a 12 year old boy. You have to love an author who can spend 10 pages of the boy describing his father's library collection! ...more
Jan 16, 2011 added it
A charming young adult book suitable for adults too.
Greg Converse
Aug 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Have you read Elie Wiesel's Dawn? Is it the same story?
Cindy Burman
Oct 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Interesting period piece. Adolescent stuck on cusp between baby and manhood. Decides to be a traitor and befriend a British Soldier, Pre- Israel statehood. Many symbolism that I did not get.
Mirka Breen
Sep 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
A lovely coming-of-age. In characteristic Oz fashion, it contains the realization that truth comes in gray, not black and white.
Jade Vinatieri
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
I read this for a class. Not my favorite, but I enjoyed it.
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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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