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My Michael

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  2,263 ratings  ·  183 reviews
Set in 1950s Jerusalem, My Michael is the story of a remote and intense woman named Hannah Gonen and her marriage to a decent but unremarkable man named Michael. As the years pass and Hannah’s tempestuous fantasy life encroaches upon reality, she feels increasingly estranged from him and the marriage gradually disintegrates. Gorgeously written, profoundly moving, this extr ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Mariner Books (first published 1968)
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3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,263 ratings  ·  183 reviews

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"I am writing this because people I have loved died."

The central character, Hannah Gonen, tell us this at the very beginning. This is her story, a recounting of the first decade of her marriage to Michael. The setting is Jerusalemn, 1950s. He is a third-year geology student, she a kindergarten teacher and in the evenings a student of Hebrew literature. Her father, whom she loved above all else, died in 1943; her mother, brother and his family live in a kibbutz. She was a tomboy as a child and le
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved it! These are my favorite kind of novels, evoking a time and place and putting the reader there, making him part of that world for a few days. I particularly love books in which the protagonist reads and casually mentions other books (that I must myself trace down and read now).
Oz wrote amazingly and really inhabited the soul of our narrator, Hannah (but I liked her husband, Michael, much more!).
Nov 17, 2016 rated it liked it
29 year old male author writing about a young Israeli woman, about her thoughts and her experiences, as though he knows her mind. Written from a first person perspective, no less. Dude! You are on your own. Even Stefan Zweig, whom you mention a few times, does not try to express his female characters psyche in the first person.

Coming off the mixture of tragic and comic tales of ”A Tale of Love and Darkness”, I was expecting more of the same. I was also hoping for more of that insight into Jewish
Stephen Durrant
Jun 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
If you read for plot, leave this book on the shelf. Oz here traces the deterioration of a marriage between two people with opposing temperaments. The woman narrator, Hannah, is a romantic, who once studied literature, remains lost in a world of dreams, and longs for excitement. Her husband, Michael, is a geologist who speaks little and only with scientific care and precision. Nothing terribly dramatic happens, except on a purely psychological level. Hannah is bored, and finds her husband's truth ...more
Daniel Chaikin
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Amos Oz's first book. The opening 50 pages are brilliant. Just dreamy wonderful perfect prose (in translation) of Hannah telling us about her history with Michael, her husband, "a geologist, a good-natured man. I loved him.". The dreamy prose started to feel like work after a bit, or maybe I was just waiting for somethings to happen that never actually happened.

Oz seems to be working on several different themes. One is a delicate exploration of personalities, and the disconnect between Michael
Oct 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2008, fiction
I chose My Michael because I wanted to read Amos Oz and it appears this is one of his earliest and most famous novels. In a recent interview he said that if you want to know how's life in a different country, the best way to find this out is by reading a novel from that country. Indeed, My Michael provides this kind of insight into Israel in the 50s. There you are, in the middle of the sunny, rainy, misty or dusty Jerusalem, in Hanna's kitchen, Michael's office or one of the many kibbutzim.

I lik
Inderjit Sanghera
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Jerusalem of "My Michael flickers fulminously beneath the mind of Hannah Gonen, the erswhile heroine of the novel. Married to the kind, if somewhat dull geologist Michael, Oz gives free-reign to Hannah's febrile, if slightly unbalanced psyche, as she sees refuges from the vague sense of dissatisfaction which runs through her life via a series of increasingly bizarre and often sexual fantasies; from the young Arab twins who she used to wrestle with when she was young, to the vulgar and loutis ...more
Christian Schwoerke
Feb 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This novel is a curious little book: published in Hebrew in 1968, it went on to become a bestseller in Israel. What’s curious is that such a book—ostensibly about a neurasthenic narcissist who envisions herself trapped in a marriage that does not sufficiently reward her need for overt displays of affection—could capture the imagination of the reading public in Israel. Two things are suggested to me by this fact: 1) the small state of Israel is very aware, literate, and self-conscious and 2) this ...more
Jan 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Oz wrote this novel in a female protagonist’s voice when he was 26, and as he got older (and wiser) swore that he would never attempt that again. And yet Hanna Gonen took on a life of her own for him as he wrote this novel in a cramped toilet after work over several months while his wife and child slept adjacent in the one bedroom flat they lived in at the time.

Hanna meets Michael while both are in university in Jerusalem in 1950, she studying literature and he studying geology. She is the imagi
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, novels
Phenomenal, and absolutely and brutally devastating.
Jun 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
The story is narrated by a woman, in fact, Michael's wife. She is clearly bipolar (or manic depressive as she would have been labeled in the 60s when the book was written). The manic episodes in the spring are devastating because of her profligate spending --- the depressive episodes are bleak stretches filled with long silences and inaction. This is an very internal book and especially interesting in the light of the autobiography which he wrote recently (Light and Darkness: A Love Story --- I ...more
Andreea Lucau
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoy this kind of books: written like a diary by a person with really rich and tormented interior life. Hanna got married to Michael maybe a little bit too fast and even if from outside they might seem like a solid, traditional Jewish family, she feels really misfit and always seem to wait for a change, for some sort of lost dreams to come true.
I have mixed feelings about this book.. On one hand it is too gloomy and depressing for me to really like it, and on the other it's so beautifully and poetically written.. The story did not actually reach me, but Oz's writing is as amazing as ever..
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
أنشودة للبساطة
بلا كلاكيع بلا نيلة

الأغنية المصاحبة للقراءة
Joan Baez - Blowin in the wind
Aug 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
I picked this up because I had to read another book of his for a class last year and really liked it ("In the Land of Israel"); this one doesn't disappoint, either. It's a story about a doomed relationship between two young Israelis: the idealistic Hannah and the prosaic Michael. More broadly, it's about the conflict between the messianic vision of Israel as a land of prophets, and the realistic, pragmatic Israel of the Labor-dominated 1950s. I don't want to give anything away, but basically one ...more
Samuel Mustri
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rich with imagery (The description of Jerusalem after the WWII where a young couple tries to build is own world. And where the Israel State is beginning), dense with symbols, and psychologically true, the novel is as pertinent today as it was when it was written in 1968
You should read "A Tale of Love and Darkness" for a fuller appreciation. The novel and the memoir complement each other.
Hannah's battles for independence and control are paralleled to the growing pains of a new land determined
Oct 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Just like the Editor I thought this book should not have been published. The author tries to write as a woman but reading the book it felt more like the story was being told from Michael's point of view. There is no plot, no real psychological depth and no substance to the story. The descriptions of the places and weather are good but really I would not recommend this book as it is just about a couple's deteriorating relationship in a time where they really didn't have much else to do and theref ...more
Aug 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
At first I thought this book was poorly written, but it sucked me in very quickly and I must say i enjoyed it. What to say about characters? Well, Hannah Gonen is, as far I am concerned, probably one of the most annoying fictional characters I came across so far (maybe also Emma Bovary). Also, this book reminded me of Sylvia Plath's The bell jar.
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
i love this book - describes a time and a place with such clarity and ease. it has an element that is ethereal and might send you into a dreamlike state of mind - i love the language sometimes so straightforward and blunt in a good way. it is a breath of fresh air - i will definitely read more of amos oz in the future.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I probably enjoyed this book so much because I am also reading Amos Oz' autobiography at the moment. A lot of the characters in My Michael are based on persons or combinations of persons from Oz' youth and feel like dear acquaintances.
Apr 03, 2012 rated it liked it

Still good, after 40 years...
Feb 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Oz's gentle, easily recognizable prose style is beyond comparison to any other contemporary Israeli writer I have read. This book was a discovery for me.
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hoopla, audiobook
Oz’s lyrical writing is beautiful, and his insights and ability to narrate from the mind of his female protagonist is quietly virtuosic. She is complex and often unlikeable, but kept my attention and interest throughout. Poor Michael.
Memorable Reading
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
Just finished the book. On the back of the Vintage copy there's a quote by A.S. Byatt that reads: "A remarkable percipient picture of the nature of women" and that pretty much sums up the book (I have no idea what Arthur Miller read, his quote doesn't make much sense now that I've read the book).

All right, so it is depressing, especially for romantics, because you want a happy ending. You want them to fall in love and live in peace and etc etc but it's just not possible. The narrator is a smart
Marc Gerstein
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
An emotionally- rather than plot-driven examination of a less-than-ideal marriage between Hannah, the passionate and dynamically imaginative former literature-student narrator, and Michael, the decent, solid, capable, feet-on-the-ground geology student. Hannah’s lack of fulfillment drives the narrative, much the way we saw elsewhere with Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina. But the resolution is quite different focusing on inner rather than outer destruction.

One thing I especially appreciated here wa
Dec 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Both Melvyn Bragg and Arthur Miller use variations of the word 'lyrical' to describe this book and I can only concur. Essentially this is a novel of a woman dissatisfied with her lot in life, in particular with the man she has married and the only way in which she can escape this disappointment is through her fantasties. This is a scenario I think all women can understand if not identify with and to an extent is a common theme in literature. Fortunately, the writing in the novel is far from comm ...more
Jul 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Amos Oz is an amazing writer. He writes with a lyrical, poetic, flowing prose that is no less than amazing. Even though, My Michael's tone was dark and harsh and bitter, it was still beautiful.

I didn't want to compare/contrast this book to My Ántonia but I think that I need to. It is interesting to note the possessive form that the authors chose to use when referring to the subjects of their novels. The feeling that another individual belongs to, is a possesion, is noted in both of the tales. Th
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a very fine book. First, the art of the story telling is nice. The book begins commonly as a romance between two people who are special because they become lovers. As the story goes on, however, the specialness of the couple is challenged by the appearance of side characters (mainly, family members). Eventually, one realizes that the couple are not special people at all. They are ordinary strugglers who had a short special period in their life together.

Next, the book describes in great d
Nov 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A phenomenal work depicting the slow and gradual decay of a marriage over the course of ten years against the backdrop of post-independence Jerusalem. It is beautifully written, with a gripping, muted style, and elegant prose, which thrust the reader into the mind of the novel's narrator and protagonist, Channah Gonen.

Channah is at times charming and at other times infuriating. Her voice - which is both cool and intimate - is what sets the tone for the entire novel. Her struggle with the banali
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book didn't captivate me at all. I got the impression that this novel was supposed to be about a marriage falling into shambles over the course of years, but the problem with that is that there needs to be an actual connection between the characters at some point in order for it to fall apart. I never felt that there was any real love between Hannah and Michael (especially on Hannah's part). They bump into each other, find each other vaguely interesting, and get married.

The background of J
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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 Pr
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“Иерусалим – это город, несущий печаль, но в каждый час, в каждое время года печальны в Иерусалиме по-своему.” 0 likes
“Иерусалим – обжигающий город. Целые кварталы кажутся повисшими в воздухе. Но при ином – пристальном взгляде вдруг откроется сила тяжести, с которой ничто не сравнимо. Запутанный произвол хитроумной сети извивающихся переулков. Лабиринт временных построек, сараев, складов, загородок, которые, подавляя свой гнев, опираются на дома из серого камня, чей цвет порой отливает легкой голубизной, а временами становится красноватым.” 0 likes
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