Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

To the End of the Land

Rate this book
From one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers comes a novel of extraordinary power about family life—the greatest human drama—and the cost of war.

Ora, a middle-aged Israeli mother, is on the verge of celebrating her son Ofer’s release from army service when he returns to the front for a major offensive. In a fit of preemptive grief and magical thinking, she sets out for a hike in the Galilee, leaving no forwarding information for the “notifiers” who might darken her door with the worst possible news. Recently estranged from her husband, Ilan, she drags along an unlikely companion: their former best friend and her former lover Avram, once a brilliant artistic spirit. Avram served in the army alongside Ilan when they were young, but their lives were forever changed one weekend when the two jokingly had Ora draw lots to see which of them would get the few days’ leave being offered by their commander—a chance act that sent Avram into Egpyt and the Yom Kippur War, where he was brutally tortured as POW.

In the aftermath, a virtual hermit, he refused to keep in touch with the family and has never met the boy. Now, as Ora and Avram sleep out in the hills, ford rivers, and cross valleys, avoiding all news from the front, she gives him the gift of Ofer, word by word; she supplies the whole story of her motherhood, a retelling that keeps Ofer very much alive for Ora and for the reader, and opens Avram to human bonds undreamed of in his broken world. Their walk has a “war and peace” rhythm, as their conversation places the most hideous trials of war next to the joys and anguish of raising children. Never have we seen so clearly the reality and surreality of daily life in Israel, the currents of ambivalence about war within one household, and the burdens that fall on each generation anew.

Grossman’s rich imagining of a family in love and crisis makes for one of the great antiwar novels of our time.

581 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2008

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

David Grossman

116 books1,011 followers
From ithl.org:

Leading Israeli novelist David Grossman (b. 1954, Jerusalem) studied philosophy and drama at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and later worked as an editor and broadcaster at Israel Radio. Grossman has written seven novels, a play, a number of short stories and novellas, and a number of books for children and youth. He has also published several books of non-fiction, including interviews with Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Among Grossman`s many literary awards: the Valumbrosa Prize (Italy), the Eliette von Karajan Prize (Austria), the Nelly Sachs Prize (1991), the Premio Grinzane and the Premio Mondelo for The Zig-Zag Kid (Italy, 1996), the Vittorio de Sica Prize (Italy), the Juliet Club Prize, the Marsh Award for Children`s Literature in Translation (UK, 1998), the Buxtehude Bulle (Germany, 2001), the Sapir Prize for Someone to Run With (2001), the Bialik Prize (2004), the Koret Jewish Book Award (USA, 2006), the Premio per la Pace e l`Azione Umanitaria 2006 (City of Rome/Italy), Onorificenza della Stella Solidarita Italiana 2007, Premio Ischia - International Award for Journalism 2007, the Geschwister Scholl Prize (Germany), the Emet Prize (Israel, 2007)and the Albatross Prize (Germany, 2009). He has also been awarded the Chevalier de l`Ordre des Arts et Belles Lettres (France, 1998) and an Honorary Doctorate by Florence University (2008). In 2007, his novels The Book of Internal Grammar and See Under: Love were named among the ten most important books since the creation of the State of Israel. His books have been translated into over 25 languages.

See also other authors with similar names.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,897 (40%)
4 stars
2,233 (31%)
3 stars
1,223 (17%)
2 stars
486 (6%)
1 star
228 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,015 reviews
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,912 reviews35.3k followers
December 5, 2022

Being Jewish in the December— was never a jolly-o-time for me growing up.
However, I’m now more mature. I’ve learned new skills….
so that when December rolls along, I’m no longer petrified….
…..[ vacation getaways, massages, they all work] > and I reach for something to READ that gives me that JEWISH
SPA-anukkah feeling.
…..since I’m not hiking these days and there’s a lot of hiking in this book. —
this was my perfect December Combo — (hiking relationship/s themes, Jewish longings,
and I was desiring a ‘re-read’. (tired of sampling ‘so-so’ books from the library many times a day), …
…..a book I knew would satisfy my soul!!!

So….. I am re-reading a favorite. *LISTENING* this time.
It’s GOOD!!! Love knowing this book well AND enjoying it again.

This book was WONDERFUL

UPDATE: 5 years later: *August 2015*

A friend 'Liked' this review yesterday. My body felt frozen - I had to remember to breath.
Honestly, I have never been more 'shocked' -'frozen' with an ending to a book than this one. I was a mess. It was not a happy ending--but I still had no idea --NONE --of what I was about to discover.
I was devastated. At first I couldn't move --then I cried -then I couldn't move some more.

I remember at some point going up to the trails, alone, for a long needed walk.

I can't say with confidence that this book is for everyone -any longer --(I thought so at one time).
I use to recommend it to others by saying:
"JUST READ IT". DO NOT READ REVIEWS...DO NOT READ ANYTHING about the author..DO NOT read the blurp..JUST READ IT! (which is still my first choice way to recommend it)
.....but I've now read several reviews.
Many people found the 'start' slow...and it never picked up for them. I didn't at all. I was intrigued with the dialogue. It begins in a hospital. At the 'very' start, you don't know the ages of the characters, why they are there, or even what country they are in.
It begins in the middle of the night.

In the middle of the book... There is a VERY LONG WALK...
Two people walking and talking....

If you are a person --who has a deep appreciation for walking in the woods with one other person ---none of this may feel slow to you....(it didn't me) ....
However --if you are looking for ACTION -- this isn't THAT book...

I suppose this is either a book you LIKE --or you DON'T LIKE ---(not much of a 'middle-of-the-road' type book).

For me...I was engaged with the entire journey --and the complications between two men and a woman.

I didn't deeply hurt until the end, which still hurts 5 years later. (less intense, but I can still feel sadness)

Most --I guess, I want to thank my friend...Debbie... for 'LIKING' my one sentence review yesterday. I'm guessing she may understand....
........some books hurt like losing and old friend....
........re-visiting those same books again years later --can breath new fresh life into us.
This has happened to me!
Profile Image for Mariel.
667 reviews1,046 followers
May 16, 2012
(Sorry for the reposting and then taking down and then reposting. This book I feel I owe something to...)

You cannot point out a star to someone without putting your other hand on his shoulder.

David Grossman wrote To The End Of The Land while his second eldest son was serving in the military. He wrote the novel as if doing so would protect him. It didn't save his life. The quote from the New York Times Book Review on the cover says "One of those few novels that feels as though they have made a difference to the world." I don't know about what the world feels because I can only pick out some and the rest is a blinding mass of noise. It did to me. I feel at a great disadvantage here because I don't know if any book has ever meant this much to me. What hyperbole can I possibly say that is bigger than that? (I like that my friend Tuck's review says that TTEOTL is "absolutely necessary". If only I were so succint!) What are the true power of words? Can any thing redeem life or humanity? To The End Of The Land changed shadowy shapes in my eyes so many times before I had finished reading it. Is it a book about people who do try to redeem themselves through others or is it the shame of being human? The culpability that we all share for living. Sleeping at night while someone else is sent to die "for you" (so they say. I wouldn't ask it of Jesus or anyone else and still it happens). People in prison to stimulate the economy and trees felled to wipe our butts. You don't ask and the shit rolls down hill all the same. Hell, to have children in Israel where they very likely will die. Raising your kid to be their fodder. Israeli news that rejoices in martyrdom and if you cry for yourself as a mother you are not mother earth. The us versus them and the proverbial wool that people can and will pull over their own eyes to get through the day. The like a lie spinning out of control sides of the wire fence. Is it fair to get used to things? Grossman wrote this mother, Ora, who is doing what he is doing when writing his book: trying to save her son by telling about him through stories. She also represents some pretty callous things. She unthinkingly asks their Arab driver, Sami, to escort her and her son when she has to say goodbye to him on the front. Unthinkable! Yet she does it, because she thinks of him as her friend (and the ripped cord that she yanks on so blindly to get it back... Yet could I judge her? For not facing up to what shouldn't be?). Or is it in denial of the lives they lead? She may have lost her family because she couldn't accept that they have seemed to swallow (without a stick in the throat) the hard military life of Israel. The world where a man can be forgotten about in a meat cooler for two days. You're here to get bombed on instead of the civilians in town. But is she so different? How much has she changed from the young girl she is in the beginning of the book to the old woman (well, I didn't think of her as old, actually. She thinks of herself as old is the main thing) at a loss to lay down lamb to slaughter or is it lions to slaughter? I never can tell. When is tearing it all through your mind and all that really redemptive?

Ofer volunteers for an assignment after his three years of mandatory service are over. Every deal, charm, prayer and what have you have been used up. Ora runs to the hills for a hike so that, for at least one month, she will not know if her son is dead. Ofer's birth father, Avram, has lived as if there was no difference between life or death for twenty-two years after he was tortured as a prisoner of war. He refused to acknowledge the existence of his son. No word and no face, at least that he will admit to. There are tell tale signs of carved markings identifying his time served on the wall in the dump where he lives (although maybe not such a half life that he will admit to. He also gravitates towards those who will redeem his life for him with his young artist girlfriend and the free spirits in the restaurant and their glory tales of trips to India). Ora needs to bring her son to life for him so that Offer will be kept safe between them. If the worst happens there will be someone left in Israel who knows him. She needs to talk about her son to answer her own questions about if she really knew Ofer, or if she was an "unnatural mother" as her estranged eldest son, Adam, told her. Her husband, Avram's once best friend, has left the country with Adam. She broke the code by reminding them of what they cannot change? Was she in the wrong to expect that her son Ofer be the hero that others are not? To save the world for her?

Through their talks in the Galilee as they hike it is a mystery of stories making up a person for Avram and reassuring or enlightening for Ora. They were a family so he has to hear about all of them. The questions that he asks are hints to the relationship that Ora, Avram and Ilan had as teenagers, lovers and best friends. It is really incredible to me the way that Grossman brought these people out as a family just by how they talked about each other, what they didn't want to talk about and the doubts and joys. The guilt in if that was the right thing to do, or if maybe you're loved one was never as open with you as you had wanted. If it is too late to imagine it all now... (Yes, I have read other books about this recently. The Nephew by James Purdy, We Disappear by Scott Heim, and Garden, Ashes by Danilo Kis. I didn't even do it on purpose. I must have an uncanny knack for finding books about this. I am also scared of what is going to be too late and of losing a life to an untrustworthy memory. I'm afraid of carrying that torch alone.)

Once, when he used to look at her like that, she would immediately open herself to him, allowing him to see inside her like that. Not even Ilan. But she was always easy with Avram- such a horrible word, "easy"; she was always easy with Avram, letting him see all of her, almost from the first moment she met him, because she had a feeling, a conviction that there was something inside her, or someone, perhaps an Ora more loyal to her own essence, more precise and less vague, and Avram seemed to have a way to reach her. He was the only one who could truly know her and could pollinate her with his look, with his very existence, and without him she simply did not exist, she had no life, and so she was his, she was his prerogative.

Did Ilan try to be his lost friend and lose the part that was just himself when he gave up on life and he raised his son with Ora? The way that Ora never feels at ease in her motherhood, the moment of knowing the right thing to do never comes. She yells at them and there's four years when Ilan bails on Ora and Adam completely (before her son with Avram is born). Was she ever the Ora that Ilan and Avram loved? Before I decided not to read any reviews of TTEOTL (in case I felt too stupid to write my own review) I read a line that Ora was unlikeable. I thought David Grossman knew exactly what he was doing. Avram, too, is hard headed. Ilan forces himself to be on the line. Ora feels she cannot keep up in the witty discussions with the men (her sons included). My heart kind of tugged for her. She can only be herself, even if that self is someone she feels not up to it.

It might sound cheesey if I write about it in a review but what the hey.
This is the part when little Ofer becomes a vegetarian.
"And all at once his face sealed up, locked, like this" - she shows him, tightly clenching her fist- "and then he ran all the way down the hallway, from the bathroom to the kitchen, and kicked me. Just imagine, he'd never done that before! He kicked my leg as hard as he could and screamed: 'You're like wolves! People like wolves! I don't want to be with you!'"

He turns the other way around when he is sixteen. Ora wonders if he wasn't trying to become the opposite of who he once was, the skinny sensitive boy, in favor of masculine and meat. I like that we don't know for sure so much. Ora suspects. We get to see Ofer through her eyes and then a little through how Avram sees him from what she says. I think that's such a wonderful way of showing about people. You get to know so much about them that way. It's not just an author listing off some qualities like intelligent or mean or something. This hurt her. He turned his back on who she thought he was, as Avram asks? I wondered myself if maybe she didn't feel like he joined "sides" of the shitty humans and she regrets that. Oh, I love this. Ora says he allowed himself to be more sensitive with the girlfriend who would leave him. She feels they aren't soft with her. Maybe it isn't enough for her, I think, because she still can't accept herself. I see this in the way that she reveres their verbal back in forth, in her pining for a daughter to help them see her. Maybe she's doing it all wrong by trying to do it too much through them. I love that sooooo much. I wondered why Ilan REALLY couldn't stay with his family when Adam was born. Did he reject her as a mother, did Avram do the same? Why could he put them on the course of day to day regulation and learning how to live in the world while she felt helpless to do so? Ora never admits it but I felt it was because she couldn't bear to go about day to day when it would lead to the front lines. She was in the army herself and she never talks about it. She gives up on her social work because it had to have been pointless to her. She gives up to live through them.

Was it because of a story that Avram "gave" to Ilan to tell once he had lost "himself" in his prison tragedy? Parents leaving their newborns in the street, behind dumpsters, because they cannot handle the sorrow? In his story that he hadn't worked out people would have to figure out the exact meaning of everything that's happened to them. Avram didn't really know anything.

"Well, there is one big issue I haven't completely solved yet," Avram murmured to himself, focused and distracted at once. "Will people dismantle all the frameworks of their lives, like their families, or will they want to leave everything just like it is right up to the last minute? What do you say? I'm also wondering if people will start telling each other nothing but the truth, right to their faces, 'cause time's running out, you know? There's no time."

Or he did, there. The walking through the Galilee, on those trails that spoke in Arabic and in Hebrew (I don't know Hebrew so I wouldn't know the words. Maybe the sounds would mean something to me. All of that trying so hard and all of that refusing to listen)... It's the effort to think about it. I took away so much from this book that I could really beat myself up worrying about getting it all right (the part when Ora takes the bus for hours every day because the chance of a terrorist attack is how she can deal with her shame of letting down her family, in their eyes. Or is it also hers?). One thing that I think I really felt the most in the end was that you shouldn't try to redeem yourself through others all by yourself. The talking and walking and letting in the glimpses of old Avram and old Ora and new Avram and new Ora and bits and glimpses of their lives? It's freaking exhausting and too exhausted for them to try too hard to force it to have some meaning you were looking for it to have. Just remember Ofer and love him. What other kind of trust is there? I don't know. This is what I've got and I'm so grateful to have it. The rest of it I can't answer other than a sick feeling in my heart that no one ever asks for it and it happens anyway. I feel something in my gut like I could almost answer why Ofer didn't even want to read the news about Israel and yet would sink himself into their military culture. What other kinds of ignoring are there that Grossman could see?

I have been a big David Grossman fan since 2005. See Under: Love and Someone to Run With are two of my favorite books ever (I had fully formed fantasies that I carried with me for that last one). I used to give my brother copies of his books years ago. He never would read him (his girlfriend at the time took pity on me and read it. She said she liked him). Once upon a time he called up to say that he had worshipped Watership Down and it was at the same time I had independently fell in love with Watership Down and my twin sister had also independently fell in love with Watership Down. We'd call and say "You have to read this book..." It doesn't last. (I didn't even mention the relationship between the two brothers. How one follows the other in some things and the other in others. The personalness of it and yet it is still so relateable for all that I have never been a young man.) Families are freaking hard. I could go on and on about the small truths that touched me about this book. How my cousin is in the army and how surprised some of my family were when he was sent off to Afghanistan (where he is now) after they had encouraged it for his whole life. How disturbed I feel when I remember that he said he couldn't wait to go kill Arabs. David Grossman must have watched all of these families to know so much (and having his own family too. I have no words for how I feel about him writing this book to save his son and he dies). I don't doubt that he feels so much about what he sees. To The End Of The Land is like some long walk and stories about humanity to try to keep it alive and save it and maybe it isn't so bad and no this is totally fucked up and was any of it worth it? It's about how hard it is to really look and not get used to it...

I hope I managed to get some of it across how much I love this book. I don't know what this rambling review will mean to anyone else but damn this book is so precious to me. I never wanted to finish reading it. It's the kind of book that talks to me like I'm a real human being and the kind of book that I always wish other books were. And I didn't even get to read it in its original language. I wonder why so many of my special favorites are works in translations again... This is another life as translated book like through eyes of people around you. Jessica Cohen translated. She's translated some of the other Grossman novels that I've read (I've read a lot. I went on a big binge late 2005-early 2006 and I am not kidding about this).
Profile Image for Michela De Bartolo.
163 reviews54 followers
October 30, 2018
Orah una donna intensa, passionale e fedele al solo puro amore, si rifugia dove nulla può raggiungerla . Un racconto sulla strada , in cammino , con la sola compagnia dell’amico e amante Avram un reduce di guerra , una guerra che ne ha distrutto ogni forma di gioia e voglia di vivere. Così ritroviamo la forza del racconto nella forza delle parole . La parola è tutto , per questo il mio Grossman sembra eccessivo nelle sue 780 pagine , ma il suo raccontare è il solo modo che Orah possiede per scongiurare la morte del suo amato figlio Ofer , in guerra . Ma la bellezza di questo libro è che tra le sue pagine non troviamo mai la morte , ma solamente la vita . Così Avram ritrova il suo corpo , spento dalle torture e sevizie subite , si riappropria di ogni suo muscolo, di ogni emozione, così ritroviamo un adolescente intelligente, vivace , instancabile come lo è stato insieme ai suoi amici Ilam e Orah . Attraverso il racconto di Ofer scongeleranno in Avram gli affetti , che verranno ritrovati . Il lavoro di questa donna è con se stessa e con il mondo maschile , con i quattro uomini che la circondano, che detestano la guerra eppure la venerano .. un libro doloroso ma essenziale , in tante pagine mi sono ritrovata come donna e come mamma .
Profile Image for Banu Yıldıran Genç.
Author 1 book624 followers
April 27, 2020
bir ağıt bu roman. israil’e, hiç bitmeyen savaşa, yaşanamayan gençliklere, yitip giden hayatlara bir ağıt.
üç arkadaşın tanışmasından başlayıp tüm hayatlarının yavaş yavaş ortaya serildiği okuması kolay olmayan bir roman. bu arkadaş grubunun kadını ora’nın kendi kendine oğlu ofer 28 gün -tekrar- askere gidince uydurduğu bir totem. 28 gün boyunca eve gitmeyecek böylece kötü haber gelmeyecek. ve o 28 güne yıllardır görmediği avram’ı da eklemesiyle didik didik ettiğimiz bir çocuğun 21 yıllık hayatı. ve bir ülkenin tarihi...
bu kadar gerçek ve derin bir kadın karakter yaratan david grossman bu romanı yazarken oğlu ölüyor askerde. bu bilgi hiç gitmiyor aklımdan. roman neydi neye evrildi?
çevirmen dilek şendil 709 sayfada bir kez bile tökezlemiyor, bir sürü kelime oyununu ustalıkla aktarıyor.
iyi ki okudum bu kitabı. okurken sıkça elim ayağım titrese de...

kitap hakkında agos'a yazdım.
Profile Image for Marc.
3,040 reviews1,040 followers
October 7, 2019
At first I struggled a bit with this book: it took me more than 80 pages to get into the story, but what followed after that was unparalleled and heart breaking. Why did I love this book?

1. With Ora as his protagonist Grossman has sketched a "big", primeval woman: mother, lover, mistress at the same time. That sounds silly and of course very gender-coloured, I know, but this character really captivated me. Ora is powerful, hypersensitive, very obsessed with life, but often also very weak, blind, and insensitive. What attracted me especially in her is how her feelings express themselves physically, coming from a deep source, suddenly, without being able to control them.
2. The male types (her 'men' Ilan and Avram, - yes, a love triangle - and her sons Adam and Ofer) are apparently very different and yet very similar; they all have great issues with reality; but the interaction between them is sparkling, challenging and at the same time sometimes frustrating, because they exclude Ora for a large part.
3. The almost physical-mental struggle of Ora, Ilan and Avram with parenting is definitely one of the strengths in this book; with a lot of details Grossman (especially through the story-telling Ora) describes the intense bond between the three parents and their children and their sometimes almost morbid worries; I have to admit that this touched a very sensitive string for me: the feeling that something as powerful as a life bond between father/mother and son/daughter is so strong and at the same time so precarious, so quickly disintegrated... Grossman has put that beautifully into words.
4. The war and terror theme and especially the very concrete setting in the Israeli-Palestinian context of course is a very strong element, with the constant threat and mistrust between people (“us" and "them”); it is actually the first time that I have felt so strongly about the existential fear of the Israelis, while Grossman at the same time provides enough elements that also stress the other side (the Arab-Palestinian one). This also includes the aspect of the horrors of the war and the terror, evoked especially in the hallucinatory scenes in Sinai during the Yom Kippur war of 1973.
5. The walking theme: more than 4/5th of this book takes place while Ora together with her youth lover Avram crisscross the Galilee region, manically driven by their fear of what is happening with their son Ofer, who is now serving (by his own choice) as a soldier. It is clear that the hiking theme here is a flight, Ora just doesn’t want to be home to receive the “death message” (and she firmly believes that by running away Ofer is protected), but at the same time the hike also is a discovery, because while walking she reveals a lot about her past, about Ofer and rediscovers the special relationship she had with Avram 21 years ago.
There are so many other elements I could enumerate to illustrate the strength of this novel, but I guess you get the picture.

Just some remarks on the weaker sides then:
1. The long intro, especially the first 50 pages in the hospital, where you actually do not know what is happening (though perhaps in a second reading everything will fall into place) was a tough read
2. The stories of Ora about her family life are sometimes quite spun out, with lots of details about the complex interaction between her and Ilan, between Adam and Ofer, and so on; who owns a family will recognize a lot in all those small, seemingly futile and at the same time enchanting details, but I can surely understand that people drop out here
3. The very long passage, around 4/5th into the book, about how Avram during the Yom Kippur war in 1973 was isolated in a bunker in the Sinai and through the radio emitted all sorts of observations, brilliant and crazy statements: here Grossman really went too far, especially because it is so artificial, since it is Ora who is telling all this to Avram (who does not remember), while she got the information from Ilan 20 years earlier.
4. the ending does not reveal anything on the fate of Ofer; so there is no real 'plot' of the story; on the contrary: the reader is left rather confused (probably Grossman did that on purpose).

Anyway: the wonderful thing about this book is that Grossman has presented us very lifelike, fragile people who are searching and struggling, loving and fleeing, to find their way in life; is it too far-fetched to call these biblical figures? There’s another reviewer I would like to quote who aptly expresses my feelings on this book: “To The End Of The Land is like some long walk and stories about humanity to try to keep it alive and save it and maybe it isn't so bad and no this is totally fucked up and was any of it worth it? It's about how hard it is to really look and not get used to it...

PS. I ignored the fact that Grossman’s younger son, Uri, was killed as a soldier in 2006, two years before the book was published. In an afterword the author states that this novel by then was almost completed, suggesting it didn’t influence the content of the story. I’m not so sure about that, but – as I stated – I choose to ignore this fact, even though it certainly adds a horrible aspect to the reading of this novel.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,691 reviews1,479 followers
August 10, 2013
ETA: I better add this. If you are looking for a sweet pat ending look elsewhere. This book does not have a fairy tale ending.

I absolutely LOVE this book. Add some explosion claps.

I have read about half. THIS is a love story. What kind of love? Love for your child, your first and your second. Love for your partner in life. Husband or someone else, doesn't matter. There is a really weird triangle love relationship, but the further and further I go into the book the more it all makes sense. And by having a triangle relationship you can see, feel and experience again for yourself all the different emotions tied with love.

Do you remember breastfeeding? Do you remember how you looked at the newborn right after delivery? Do you remember the first step and words and funny things your kids have done? They will not be exactly the same as those mentioned in this book but there has to be something wrong with you if you don't recall your own memories and feelings. How did a man write this? Sorry if I am prejudiced....

Superb writing! One minute you see a glint of light on a stone, marvel at a simile, are trying to understand your own philosophical approach or remembering your own experiences, and in the next sentence you are abruptly brought back to earth with a snide remark. Avram has one of his rare smiles, and Ora says, "Be careful it might stick." Avram is short, and Ora refers to his "peanut stature". I love the quick changes. You are continually snapped back to real life. Marvelous dialogs.

I love the philosophical content. I love the writing. Damn, how many authors can capture what "love" is really about? All different kinds of love. Few authors can capture the inherent differences between how men and women think.

WHY do other reviewers dislike Ora? Maybe I would not do what she does, because I simply do not have the courage, but I completely understand her. I admire her ability to do what she does. It is not at all as stupid as others say.

Having now finished the book I still feel that it was fantastic, from start to finish. There was only one brief section, when the philosophizing is laid on too thick. The latter half brings home with a punch how it has been to be an Israeli. The events carry the reader from the Six-Day War of 1967, through the Yom Kippur War of 1973 through to the suicide bombings that continue still today. How do these people look at life today? You understand that too by reading this book.

If you are curious to understand more about the book please see the discussion below. I grew to very much appreciate Arthur Morey's narration of this excellent book, although it took me a while.

This is the best book of fiction I have read this year! Its themes are love, family relationships and life in Israel. Fiction? The author knows what he is talking about. "Grossman began writing the novel in May 2003 when his oldest son Yonatan was serving in the Israeli Defense Forces and the book was largely complete by August 2006 when his younger son Uri was killed in the Second Lebanon War." (Wikipedia).

Profile Image for Elaine.
776 reviews358 followers
February 27, 2016
I really struggled with this one, and to a certain extent I feel like I am giving four stars because respect must be paid, to Grossman as a novelist at the height of his powers using all his craft to create a formally perfect and emotionally searing masterpiece, to Grossman as a father who somehow managed to take some small piece of his loss and transform it into art, to Grossman as a rational thinking caring man in a place where rationality and caring are at best perilously endangered.

And so respect is paid -- to Grossman and to his two towering creations: Ora, the feminine muse, the mother, all interiority (we experience so much of this novel inside her head, but also very literally inside her body and all the sensations that take place there), and Avram, who is really two himself, the logorrheic boy (and every Jewish kid in the world has been to summer camp with someone like Avram, brilliant and awkward and ugly and self-deprecating and caustic and savage) and the damaged man who has learned to live without ambition, desire or pain -- making a little world for himself with other imperfect souls and bits of trash (this Avram, this diminished but not dead life force is perhaps the strongest part of the novel, and Avram's tragedy so much more vivid and real than the plot points that come after).

So much is brilliantly realized, and yet, I did struggle, because within this grand sweep (and I will accept the suspension of disbelief that creates monumental concidences and unnaturally detailed memory and dialogue that is monologue and all kinds of things that are not realism -- but this isn't realism, it's archetype, and myth), there are places where we just bog down.

There are scenes minutely recounting the boys (the second set of boys, Ora's sons) as children, with tics, passions and manias, that seem to go on and on. And I was never sure what Grossman was trying to do with these scenes: convey the lumpy discomfort of family life that seems precious in retrospect? Pay homage to his dead son by making him live again through memory (because that is the book's central theme -- as befits a Jewish masterpiece -- memory as elegy but memory also as life force)? There seemed to be a deeper thread about the relationship between the two brothers, their apparent twinning of darkness and light, that never quite became real for me and never achieved the depth of feeling that I think Grossman wanted it to have.

And there are times when you get frustrated with Ora, with (for all her maternal generosity) her persistent self-centered blindness to the pain of others -- to Sami's pain, to Avram's pain, to her sons' pain. Shut up and listen, you want to say, and maybe that's part of the point.

But still intense and powerful -- particularly the scenes of that first hallucinatory nightmare day with Sami in his taxi with the (briefly) new upholstery, and as noted above, Avram's story and his arc.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,692 reviews14.1k followers
August 16, 2013
I actually wanted to re-read the ending before I wrote this review, I did and although it is not your proverbial happy ending, it is so very fitting. When one reads a book like this, a book that I would probably never had picked up unless one of my goodread friends had been reading it and just posting how much she was loving this book. It is so wonderful when this site does just these kind of things.

This book is one that I will probably think about for a long time. We first meet the three main characters, Ora, Ilan and Avram when they are young teens, very ill and in a makeshift hospital. This is their beginning and ours as well. It is important that the reader understands the relationship between the three, it is crucial to the story and is the basis for much of what follows.

That this book was written by a man just astounds me, because never have I read of a mother's love so eloquently stated. Trying to make bargains with fate, anything to keep her child alive. Profound and wise. A book that requires a slow read, to cherish every sentence because they all illicit some type of emotion.

We learn of these characters entanglements, during the 6 day War and the Yom Kippur War all the way through to the suicide bombers of today. So much history and so much anguish. This is a very heartfelt, poignant read about three people whose connections would last, good or bad, throughout their lives and their country's history. We learn of friendship, and love, sacrifice and guilt. Then to read Grossman's comments after the end of the book, I was just floored because there is a very personal reason for the writing of this book.
Profile Image for tunalizade.
124 reviews43 followers
August 14, 2019
1967 senesinin Haziran ayında İsrail'in Ürdün, Mısır ve Suriye'ye saldırması sonrası toprak alanını üç katına çıkarması ile sonlanan ve sadece altı gün süren savaş, Altı Gün Savaşı ile başlayan kitap, bu savaşta yaralanan ve kaldırıldıkları hastanede tanışan üç kişinin uzun soluklu hayat hikayesini anlatıyor. Ora, İlan ve Avram.

Eski aşklar, anne şefkati, eski eş, savaşlar, katliamlar ve korkular üzerine iyi kurgulanmış bir David Grossman kitabı. Bir erkeğin kaleminden bir kadının duyguları iliklerimize kadar hissedeceğimiz düzeyde sağlam bir yapıyla aktarılıyor. Her cümle yere olabildiğince sağlam basıyor.

Savaşı ve etkilerini görmüş, kazanan veya kaybeden tarafta olmanın hayatlarından eksiltenler için çok da farklı olmadığını hissetmiş bir anne Ora. Savaşların ardı arkası kesilmeyen yıllarda İsrail topraklarında güçlerin ispatlar uğruna kan döktüğü zamanlar. Ve bir devlet, askeri kültür ve yaşam tehdidi.

Grossman bize kolay okunan bir kitap sunmuyor; hatta başlarda alınan ilaçlar ve güçsüz düşmeleri histerik yazı diliyle bedenimize işliyor. Gidecek bir yerin olmadığını, tüm kaçışların sonunun yine aynı sınırlara dayandığını fazlasıyla hissettiriyor.

İki oğlu da kitap yazılırken askeri görevde olan yazar aslında tam da Ora'nın yaptığını yapıyor, yazdıklarıyla oğullarına bir set kuruyor, onları koruyor, ölüm haberinin gelmemesi için zamanın bir an önce geçmesini güç savaşlarının bitmesini diliyor. Fakat Grossman bu kitabı bitirmeden bir oğlu görev sırasında öldürülüyor. Ve şöyle diyor kitabın bitiminde "... O zamanlar yazmakta olduğum kitabın onu koruyacağına inanırdım, daha doğrusu öyle dilerdim. Uri, 12 Ağustos 2006 günü, İkinci Lübnan Savaşı'nın son saatlerinde Güney Lübnan'da öldürüldü. Onun birliğinin tankı başka bir tanktaki askerleri kurtarmaya çalışırken bir füzeyle vuruldu. Uri ile birlikte ekibinde kim varsa can verdi..."

Uzun bir kitap ama güzel bir kitap. Siren Yayınları dilimize iyi kitapları kazandırmaya devam ediyor. Okuma listenize ekleyin derim.
Profile Image for Pedro Varanda.
420 reviews35 followers
January 5, 2021
Felizmente que existem livros destes para tornar mais fácil o ritmo dos nossos dias neste mundo tão estranho. É um livro de leitura exigente e por vezes muito denso, mas é excepcional. Obrigatório.
Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,744 reviews1,192 followers
April 24, 2020
Tale by Israeli author, ant-settlement protester whose son was killed in the army shortly before he finishes the book.

The story is far from flawless: the first 50 pages are incoherent (supposedly representing the fever of the three characters which is itself a metaphor for the war fever of Israel but it makes this piece unreadable); clunky in structure with the first 50 pages followed by a whole subplot about Ora and her family’s Palestinian driver Sami (she unthinkingly gets him to drive Ofer to his military base: he then en route to taking her to her pilgrimage uses her as a cover for an illegal refugee he is taking to a makeshift overnight Palestinian hospital) and which is more similar to Grossman’s usual writing, with then the actual story only really starting after 110 pages; at times difficult to follow and obtuse; Ora’s recollection is often far too perfect – particularly when she reports to Avram on what happened to Ilan on the day he was captured when he listened to Avram’s radio broadcasts and increasingly desperate ramblings – which Ilan only told her around 20 years ago in turn 15 years after it happened.

Nevertheless it is an extremely powerful story and works on two levels: as an examination of the threat to Israeli and the resultant military culture and insecurity; and as an examination of motherhood – particularly of being a mother of three boys in a macho culture and more generally of parenthood (its joys, fears and concerns). The middle part of the book in particular is outstanding at periods with each page bringing fresh insights

The Ilan/Avram/Ora relationship seems extremely close to the Max/Onno/Ada relationship in The Discovery of Heaven and the book shares much of the same feel at times. Ora’s ideas of maintaining Afer’s life by not being around to be told of his death is José Saramago-esque.
Profile Image for Celia.
1,161 reviews148 followers
November 17, 2022
David Grossman, one of Israel’s most acclaimed writers, has written a novel of extraordinary power about family life—the greatest human drama—and the cost of war.

Three people meet in 1967, with injuries suffered in the Six Day War.

Thirty three years later there is another war and the son of Ora has served his time but re-enlists. She leaves her home because she does not want to be there if THEY come (THEY would tell her that her son has been killed). She decides to leave home for a month-long hike and takes her once-lover Avram with her. From this vantage point she tells the story of her life with her husband Ilan and her two sons, Adam and Ofer.

This book is all the more poignant because Grossman's son, Uri, died fighting a war in 2006.

The book is long but well worth the read. I also listened to the audio spoken by Arthur Morey.

4.5 stars rounded up to 5
Profile Image for Erkan.
250 reviews35 followers
July 2, 2022
Bazı açılardan benim için en'lere sahip olan bir roman oldu. Okuduğum en ayrıntılı ve en gerçek romandı. Bu ayrıntılar okuru yer yer zorlasa da metni sağlamlaştıran, gerçekliği ve doyuruculuğu artıran kısacası romanın bu kadar güçlü olmasını sağlayan da tam olarak buydu.

İsrail zor ve bir çok açıdan bize uzak bir coğrafya. Orada yaşananları üstün körü biliyoruz ve bildiklerimiz de karşı tarafa ait bilgiler. Ancak bir de olayın diğer yüzü var. Beş milyon nüfusuyla çevresi müslümanlarla sarılmış bir Yahudi devleti ve yıllardır tehlike içinde yaşayarak hayatta kalma çabasındalar. En ufak yaşlardan bu gerçeğin içine doğup herkesin onlardan nefret ettiği düşüncesiyle büyütülüyorlar. Bu durum karşı tarafta da böyle olunca olay içinden çıkılmaz bir hal alıyor ve kısır döngü şeklinde herkes birbirinden nefret halinde yaşıyor. Arap kadını acaba bugün cocugum plastik mermi yer de bi yerleri kırılır mı ya da akşam eve sağ salim döner mi diye düşünürken ortalama bir İsrailli de otobüste bir canlı bomba olma ihtimalini göz önünde bulundurarak o otobüse binmek zorunda kalıyor.

Romana gelince daha çocuk sayılacak yaşta bir savaşın kesiştirdiği üç hayatla yapıyor açılışı yazar. 70'lerdeki Mısır savaşından sonra karantina altında tutulan iki erkek biri kız bu üç gençten ikisi (biri erkek biri kadın) çok uzun yıllar sonra yaya olarak bir yolculuğa çıkıyorlar. Bu yıllar içinde tabii çok fazla şeyler yaşanmış, getirileri ve götürüleri çok fazla. Yaptıkları bu yolculuk zamanla geçmişle bir hesaplaşmaya dönüşüyor.

Bazı okuyucular bahsettiğim bu ayrıntıları okurken sıkılıp kitabı yarıda bırakabilirler. Bana göre oldukça orjinal diyaloglar ve hikayeler barındırıyor roman ama bunların bir kısmı son derece günlük, hayatın içinden detaylar ve hikayeler de olabiliyor ki bana göre bunu yapabilmek çok büyük bir beceri ister ama yazarımız yüzlerce sayfa en ufak bir sarkma olmadan üslubu ve anlatım tarzını koruyabilmiş. Bir de kurgu muazzamdı, geçmişe dönüşlerde düz bir çizgi yok, sürekli kaymalar ve farklı zaman dilimlerine dönüşler de var.

Kısaca toparlayacak olursam bana göre yazılması son derece zorlu bir romanın çok başarılı bir şekilde altından kalkmış yazar. Manzarayı bir de karşı taraftan izlemek adına önemli, bu arada kesinlikle milliyetçilik sosuna bulanarak yazılmış bir metin değil bu arada yoksa rahatsız edici olurdu. Edebi metinleri kendimizle özdeşleştirebildiğimiz kadar özdeşleştiremediğimiz ve anlamaya çalıştığımız durumlar için de okumaz mıyız zaten..ve evet bu çok net bir başyapıt..!
Profile Image for Simona.
941 reviews207 followers
August 27, 2014
Grossman mi ha accompagnato per 9 giorni. 9 giorni di dolore, di angoscia, 9 giorni in cui il mio cuore ha sofferto piangendo lacrime amare.
Leggere questo romanzo è una sofferenza, non solo interiore, ma anche fisica. E' una ferita profonda che si apre lasciando piaghe e che fa fatica a rimarginarsi. E' sofferenza, è angoscia, è dolore nel dolore.
E'difficile leggere un libro del genere, non tanto per lo stile, quanto per il fatto che Grossman dà voce a ognuno dei personaggi, di cui il lettore impara a conoscere il vissuto, un vissuto che fa male, che fa soffrire e che strazia l'anima di chi incontra questa storia e queste parole.
Grossman conferma di essere uno scrittore di grande sensibilità e bravura. Immergetevi in questa storia che vi lascerà il cuore ferito, ma anche colmo di bellezza e poesia.
Profile Image for Natalie.
150 reviews176 followers
October 23, 2011
I am in Paris, and have been in Berlin and Barcelona for 3 weeks before that.

I have bought SO many books, and visited the best bookstores in the world: two of which were in Berlin.

Today I went to Shakespeare and co, and got some contemporary French translations, so I need to plough through this so I can get started on the 15 other books im lugging around from my trip purchases. Hard to carry for 7 weeks!


Just finished this an I am too emotional to write about it a) because the book totally ruined me emotionally and b) I just got back from a 24 hour plane ride.

However, I can confidently say that this was one fo of the nest novels I have ever read and anyone that does not read this is surely missing out on something wonderful.
Profile Image for Helen.
Author 12 books222 followers
August 7, 2014
This is one of the best books I've read on what it means to live in Israel.

I’m not the first to write that To the End of the Land is a shattering, soul-changing book. While Mr. Grossman was working on the manuscript, his son Uri was called up to serve in Operation Cast Lead. He was killed as he attempted to rescue another group of soldiers. Grief and loss haunt every page.

For three years, Ora has been anxiously awaiting her son Ofer’s discharge from the Israeli army. Together, they’ve been planning a long camping trip to celebrate his new freedom. Without her knowledge, he signs on for another month. An important operation is going on, the whole country is on alert. The explanation he gives her, that his whole service has been a monotony of manning border checkpoints, and that this is his big chance to see some real action, infuriates and terrifies her.

At home, she flits around her kitchen trying to distract herself. As she cooks and cleans, she finds herself glancing compulsively at the window in the door, imagining that she sees the shoes of the “notifiers,” the military men who tell families that their sons have been killed in action. Ora comes to an abrupt decision; she will take that long hike. If they can’t find her to tell her that Ofer is dead, she reasons, he can never die.

In her compulsion to escape, Ora drags along Avram, her former lover and best friend, whose passion, brilliant mind and enormous talent were irreparably broken when he was tortured by the enemy during the Yom Kippur War. As they walk across the land of Israel, through cold mountain streams and fields of flowers, she will weave a magical safety net around her son by telling Avram, his biological father, about the boy’s life.

The writing is full of searingly familiar details, as if Grossman had opened up my kids’ baby books and copied out my own memories. With a poignancy bordering on pain, Grossman reminds us that soldiers, twenty-year-olds in uniforms, are all someone’s little boy, a little boy who needed kisses, dressed in footsie pajamas, hugged favorite stuffed animals, and called someone "Mommy" in a sweet and lisping voice.

To the End of the Land is described as having an anti-war message, and it does, but much more than that, it is a shimmering work of art; if Gunter Grass and Bruno Schulz had had a baby together, he would have written like this. The book disregards modern storytelling technique, shifting POVs and leaping back and forth in time. It begins as the tale of a friendship between three lonely, damaged teenagers, thrown together three decades earlier in the isolation ward of an empty hospital. In passages of dialogue that read like poetry, we meet Avram before his mind is ruined, when he is a funny, irresistibly original and charming fifteen-year-old kid. The moment he sets eyes on beautiful, red-headed Ora, he falls completely in love with her. He makes the mistake of introducing her to his roommate in the hospital ward, the handsome Ilan. Ora falls in love with one boy’s personality and the other boy’s beauty.

Later, drawn together by a mutual love for their wrecked friend, Ora and Ilan marry. In the book's most harrowing passage, Ilan tells Ora how he tried to rescue Avram from an overrun Sinai stronghold. During the worst of the fighting, on a day when it was not certain that Israel would survive as a country, Ilan goes AWOL to get closer to the last place Avram was posted. When he tries to rally the soldiers to rescue his friend, they tell him it’s hopeless. Helplessly, he listens to Avram’s fading voice on an army radio set, addressing an uncaring universe as he waits for the Egyptian soldiers to find him and kill him. At this point in the novel, Mr. Grossman has written characters so nuanced, so fully realized, that you believe that Ilan and Avram are real. You hate war. And you are filled with dread.

Profile Image for Marica.
339 reviews129 followers
May 27, 2020
Decidere di essere Inglese
La protagonista è una donna che fa un viaggio a piedi dalla Galilea verso Gerusalemme insieme a un vecchio amico, al quale racconta 30 anni di vita. La vita della donna si dispiega agli occhi del lettore, lentamente, perché dapprima c’è solo il suo racconto, poi, attraverso la sua difficoltà a capire la piega che ha preso la sua vita, affiorano gli altri personaggi, non filtrati e il quadro si definisce. Cambia l’immagine della donna: all’inizio sembra essere vittima della scarsa sensibilità dei familiari, tutti uomini, poi si ha l’impressione che il suo temperamento estroverso e generoso sia diventato impermeabile alla sensibilità degli altri, inducendola a comportamenti percepiti come inadeguati e che questo abbia portato un distacco. Il personaggio di Ilan compare nel libro come un fantasma, poi gradualmente risulta aver trasportato un peso immane. Questa mi sembra la struttura del libro, sulla quale si intreccia il paesaggio di Israele, la grande difficoltà di essere ebreo e arabo e bambino in questo paese: colpisce per esempio la disperazione di un bimbo di pochi anni nel realizzare che gli israeliani sono pochi e i paesi nemici molti e molto popolosi, a cui segue la decisione di essere inglese e andare a letto con una chiave inglese. Il libro è costruito con notevole maestria, dato che riesce a essere avvincente e scorrevole per circa 800 pagine, è molto ricco di spunti, io ne ho descritto solo uno, che tuttavia mi sembra di interesse universale: come a volte si perde il contatto con le persone care, senza rendersi conto di come sia successo, senza essere capace di farsene una ragione.
Profile Image for merixien.
542 reviews281 followers
December 8, 2019
“Otuz yıl kadar önce Avram’ı ondan kopardıkları, Ora’nın hayatını istimlak ettikleri zaman da yaşamıştı kanını donduran aynı korkuyu, aynı yıkımı. Aynısını tekrardan yaşıyordu: Demir postallar giymiş bu ülke, bir kere daha devletin el atmaması gereken bir yere gülle gibi inmişti.”

Bu kitabın konusuna dair çok fazla bir şey söyleyemeyeceğim. Bunun iki sebebi var: birincisi öyle muazzam bir olay örgüsüyle ilerliyor ki ne söylesem işin sonu spoilera gider gibi. İkincisiyse o kadar güzel ki, ne anlatsam eksik kalacak. İsrail- Filistin arasındaki bitmek bilmeyen savaşın arasında sıkışmış üç çocuk, bir anne, iki adam ve İsrail Savunma Kuvvetlerine kamulaştırılmış iki oğul. Son bir kaç yıl içerisinde okuduğum en etkili kitaplardan. Özellikle de en sonunda yazarın notunu okuyup kapattığımda yüreğime koca bir kaya oturdu. Ağlatmayan, lakin insanlığı sorgulatan- soğutan canınızı acıtan bir kitap. Bu arada yazarın küçük oğlu da 2006’da ikinci Lübnan Savaşı’nda ordu hizmetini yaparken 21 yaşında hayatını kaybetmiş. Arkasından yazdığı ve “bu bahar çok kısa” minvalinde çevirilebilecek bir de şarkı daha doğrusu ağıt var ki, ne söylesem az gelir. 709 sayfa olması gözünüzü korkutmasın, bu kitabı okumamazlık etmeyin. Mutlaka okuyun.

“ ‘Sür’ demişti Sami’nin yanındaki yolcu koltuğunda otururken.
Ora bir an düşünmüştü. Ona bakmadan yanıtlamıştı soruyu, ‘Ülkenin sonuna.’
‘Bana sorarsan ülkenin sonuna çoktan geldik.’ demişti Sami dişlerinin arasından.”
Profile Image for D.
496 reviews61 followers
May 6, 2021
3.5 stars. See here for a good review. Unfortunately, the book leaves too many open threads. And, as mentioned in here, it takes a long time before the story begins to make sense. Being old enough to remember the Yom Kippur war, I was nevertheless surprised, judging from the book, how close the enemies came to destroy Israel. I guess, in the end, Kissinger and Sharon saved the IDF's bacon.
Profile Image for Fazilet Özdiker.
16 reviews1 follower
March 18, 2022
Storytel harika bir Deniz Yüce Başarır sesinden dinledim kitabı. Savaş karşıtı İsrailli bir yazar olan Grossman; Ora, İlan ve Avram üzerinden hem hastalıkları hem savaşı hem de dostluğu anlatıyor. Yazardan bir sonraki kitabım Bir At Bara Girmiş olacak...
Profile Image for Stephen Durrant.
666 reviews146 followers
September 9, 2011
I feel a bit guilty about not having become more absorbed in this novel. Several of my friends, whose taste in literature I respect, felt Grossman's "To the End of the Land" was the best thing since sliced bread (since I have started spending time in France, this expression baffles me--was sliced bread really a step forward? Anyway . . . ) . It was for me slow and even at times tedious. The premise is enticing. A young Israeli, who has already fulfilled his compulsory military service, volunteers for a counter terrorist mission. His mother, a woman named Ora, has a bad feeling about what will befall him and decides, with a little magical thinking, that if she is not home for official notification of his death, he will be alright. So she goes on an extended hike through the countryside of northern Israel with a former lover, who is in interesting ways entangled with her family (I can't say more about this without adding a spoiler alert). The novel then becomes an extended series of stories and flashbacks about Ora's two sons and her own tangled romantic past. But it is also about something else, which dominates the last hundred or so pages, and that for me was highly effective and deeply moving: the sadness and trauma of living in Israel and raising children for a military that is always, in one way or another, at war. The theme gains special poignancy because the author David Grossman is an Israeli peace activist who lost a son in Lebanon in 2006. One reviewer has noted that this is a great book precisely because it intends to make a difference in our world. I respect that, as I respect the suffering of Israeli parents who generation after generation must offer their children to a battle that seems without hope of ever ending. Still, I was only absorbed in this novel for maybe half of its six hundred plus pages.
Profile Image for Sheri.
1,096 reviews
October 25, 2011
What this book could have been like with a decent editor! I read it on my Kindle, so I have no idea how many printed pages it was, but it felt like the reading equivalent of the Bataan Death March. And since so much of the narrative unfolds during a hike across Israel by two of the main characters, the comparison to the Bataan Death March felt pretty apt. Which isn't to say there aren't things to like about this book. The accounts of the events of the lives of the 2 sons from birth through childhood are true gems. Likewise, the stories of what happened to Avram (one of the 3 adult main characters) are also fascinating, and when you find out what really happened to him and how, it's pretty gratifying. (It certainly puts a context on what's likely to happen now to Gilad Shalit, the Israeli solder just released after 5 years of captivity, at the hands of his own government.) But nothing in the book is linear, and the plot is so heavily bogged down in descriptive details that it's tempting to put the book down and just give up. Another big beef I have with the book is that the husband (Ilan) and his story are really never told, with the exception of one event. So there is both way too much, and way too little, to satisfy the reader. Finally, I hated the ending.
Profile Image for Yosum.
171 reviews5 followers
September 29, 2022
Bu kitap ile ilgili ne yazmalıyım bilemedim. Sanki ne yazsam eksik kalacak. Okumaya başlayıp, ilk bölümde sıkılmış ve yarım bırakmıştım. Sonra bir yerde ( belki de burada ) çok güzel bir yorum okudum kitapla ilgili ve tekrar elime aldım. İyiki de almışım. Çok uzun ve okunması zor bir kitap. Size gül bahçesi vadetmiyor ama yine de okuyun derim.
Profile Image for Siv30.
2,301 reviews121 followers
June 22, 2019
3.5 כוכבים.

לו הספר הזה היה באורך 300 -350 עמודים הייתי נותנת לו 5 כוכבים, אבל הוא לא. הוא מעל ל 630 עמודים שאומנם חלקם כתובים יפיפה, אבל לפחות 200 מהם מיותרים ומתישים כשבבסיס העלילה אין מה שיצדיק 630 עמודים.

זהו סיפורה של אורה, שבנה עופר יוצא למבצע בשטחים הכבושים. אורה שתחושת הבטן שלה מבשרת לה רעות, אורזת תרמיל ומחליטה לצאת לצעידה בשביל חוצה ישראל. את הצעידה היא תכננה עם עופר שעמד להשתחרר מצה"ל ועתה היא נאלצת לגייס לצעידה את אברם, חבר נעוריה שאיתו לא שוחחה בשנים האחרונות.

במהלך הצעידה, הסופר יעסוק באירוע הכואב של מלחמת יום כיפור אבל גם יתחוור לקורא משולש היחסים של אורה עם בעלה אילן ועם אברם חברם מהנעורים. כך יסתבר לקורא משולש היחסים בין בין עופר, אורה ואברם ותפרש לעניי הקורא סאגה מרשימה ודינמיקה אישית עוד יותר מרשימה בין הדמויות השונות שבסיפור. הרעיון התמאטי המוביל את העלילה הוא המסע והבריחה של הדמויות השונות מההווה רק כדי לחזור אל העבר ולפרש אותו כמעין מורה דרך לעתיד. רעיון יפה שבמשולב עם בחירת אירועים של מלחמת יו�� כיפור והמיקומים השונים על שביל ישראל מגביר את עוצמת החוויה.

יחד עם המחמאות ישנה בעיה מרכזית בסיסית בסיפור העלילה, שבמעין אורבורוס אוכלת את זנבה.

הכל מתחיל ונגמר בפחד ההיולי של אורה מבשורת המוות שטרם הגיעה. העלילה הולכת וחוזרת ומסתובבת סביב הפחד של אורה שמקבל ממדים לא רציונלים. בשם כך, הקורא סופג את החלק הראשון בספר שהוא כ- 15% שנועדו להסביר את שחר היחסים במשולש היחסים הבסיסי של דור המבוגרים (אילן, אורה ואברם). בשם כך, הקורא גם נאלץ לספוג את תיאור היחסים עם הנהג הערבי של המשפחה ואת חוסר הרציונליות של אורה ביחסיה עם עופר לאחר גיוסו.

דפים על גבי דפים שחוזרים במעגלים על אירועים מהעבר שלפעמים נדונים מספר פעמים בעלילה מנותחים ומפורשנים ומנותחים עד זרא ועד מוות. רק לקראת החלק האחרון של הספר, למעשה ברבע האחרון העלילה מקבלת תפנית כאשר הקורא מקבל דרך אורה את זווית הראיה של אילן על מלחמת יום כיפור. זווית ששופכת אור על כל מערכות היחסים בספר. עד אז הספר מדשדש, עם המון עמודים שבחלקם יש תיאורי נוף נפלאים ובחלקם תיאורי איטראקציות אנושיות מעולות ובחלקם פשוט קישקושים. לפעמים ישנה הברקה חזקה שמקדמת את המסע פנימה והחוצה (כמו הסיפור של אברם בשבי המצרי) אבל בדרך כלל זה לא קורה. המון תיאורים פיוטיים, מטבעות הלשון ריקות מתוכן ולא אומרות כלום כל מיני צירופים לשוניים שנראים מאוד יפה על הנייר אבל אין להם שום משמעות.

ואם זה לא מספיק, כלל שהספר מתארך גם מערכות היחסים בין הדמויות הופכות מופרכות עד הזויות ברמת אמינות אפס

הבחירה של גרוסמן להציב את אורה בין שני גברים שהמילה הכי טובה לתאר אותם זה אימפוטנטים דברנים וקשקשניים, היא בחירה שככל שהספר מתמשך מסתברת בעוכריה של הדמות של אורה.

הדמות הראשית של אורה הולכת ומקבלת לאורך הספר צביון לא אמיתי, היא אמזונה, מושכת גברים, חסידת אומות עולם ואז הופכת באופן לא מוסבר לצדקת פוליטית, היחידה ממשפחתה שחברה בעמותת "יש דין" או איך שאילן בעלה אומר לה - את לא במחסום watch. ככל שמתמשכים הפרקים היא גרמה לי למאוס בה, לפתח אנטגוניזם קשה כלפיה, היא הופכת להיות דמות לא סבירה.

אז מבחינתי זה לא ספר רע או גרוע. זה ספר שיש לו מספר נקודות עוגן מובהקות באירועים מכוננים שהסופר פשוט שוחק עד דק ע"י מריחה של הסיפור על 650 עמודים. עם כל דף שעובר הוא רק מחרב את הסיפור ואת הדמות של אורה יותר ומרחיק אותה מהמציאות.
Profile Image for Emre Yaman.
17 reviews29 followers
January 13, 2023
Keşke Türk edebiyatı-Türkçe edebiyat tartışması yapacağımıza neden savaşlar yüzünden sayısız insanını kaybetmiş bir coğrafyada böyle savaş karşıtı bir roman üretilemiyor diye tartışsak. Büyük bir yazar ile oğlunu savaşta yitiren bir baba birleşince böyle bir kitap çıkıyor ortaya. Oğullarını askere göndermeden önce yazmaya başladığı romanı sırasında savaş karşıtı birçok açıklaması olan Grossman kitabın sonunu savaşta kaybettiği oğlunun yasını tutarken getiriyor ve bu deneyim kitabın her zerresinde hissediliyor.
700 küsur sayfalık bu roman başlangıç bölümü dışında bir yolculuk kitabı olarak ilerliyor. Oğlunu anlatarak savaşın tehlikelerinden korumaya çalışan bir anneye şahit oluyoruz. Aslında Grossman da bu kitabı yazarak oğlunu koruyacağına inanan bir baba. Fakat bu çabalar yetmiyor.
Bizim gibi savaşı kahramanlık hikâyeleri ile kutsayan bir topluma çok uzak bir roman aslında. Amacı ne olursa olsun savaşın cinayet olduğu ve cinayetin ne sebeple işlenirse işlensin insanı kötü bir şeye dönüştürdüğü gerçeğini bizim insanlarımızın havsalası almıyor.
Taşıdığı bu özel anlamların dışında üç yakın arkadaşın birbiriyle kurduğu aşk-dostluk hikâyesini zaman içersinde yaptığı atlamalarla ilmek ilmek ören Grossman çok kuvvetli bir aşk hikâyesini de anlatıyor aslında. Üstelik bunu bir kadın karakterle yapıyor olması gerçekten takdire şayan. Bir erkekten okuduğum en iyi kadın karakterlerden birisi olabilir Ora.
Grossman'ın yazarlığına zaten Bir At Bara Girmiş'den hayrandım bu kitap ile politik duruşuna da ayrıca hayran oldum.
Profile Image for Leylak Dalı.
503 reviews121 followers
September 20, 2022
708 sayfası ve küçük puntolarıyla gözlerimi perişan etmesi bir yana kalbimi de parçaladı. O kadar etkilendim ki ne bitmeyen sayfalara, ne de o küçük puntolara kızabildim. Annelik, ebeveynlik, aşk, sevgi, dostluk, düşmanlık, savaş, halklar, sorgulayıp durdum her sayfada kendimi ve insanlığı. Çağlar boyunca barış içinde yaşamayı beceremediğimiz için kahırlandım. Yazarın son sözleri de cabası oldu. Uzun yıllar unutamayacağım bir kitap olacak...
36 reviews6 followers
December 3, 2010
What an entrancing introduction to the work of acclaimed, progressive Israeli novelist David Grossman, whose son died fighting in the conflict with Lebanon in 2006. Though Grossman wrote much of this novel before that tragedy, it fully informs and casts its shadow over the narrative. Grossman, in a sense, had been writing the book to protect his son, just as his protagonist Ora goes on a desperate hike with her former lover in the Galilee to avoid any bad news related to her son, Ofer (who must be modeled on Grossman's son, Uri), fighting the 2000 offensive in the Occupied Territories. Read "The Unconsoled," George Packer's nuanced, probing profile of Grossman's complexity and understand why you have to read this book. It is a long read, at almost 600 pages, but powerfully covers the turbulent political and emotional history of Israel from 1967 almost to present.

It really makes you have sympathy for progressive Israelis who know their country is doomed but still love it and feel its the only home in the world for them. As Ora poignantly observes, "I always think: This is my country, and I really don't have anywhere else to go. Where would I go? Tell me, where else could I get so annoyed about everything, and who would want me anyway? But at the same time I also know that it doesn't really have a chance, this country. It just doesn't...If you think about it logically, if you just think numbers and facts and history, with no illusions, it doesn't have a chance" (p. 322? "Ilan Came Home" chapter).
Profile Image for Sally.
33 reviews
October 18, 2014
I really enjoyed reading this book. I think one of the main reasons is that I have read so many based in the UK or USA and therefore reading this book was a refreshing change. It may seem odd to use the word refreshing considering the subject matter but I found that too was refreshing or rather the way in which it was presented. This book was challenging in a good way it was also confronting at times in a gentle rather than brutal way, it was also joyous and saddening. The writing made me feel like I was present with the characters either as an invisible guest at the family home sitting at the kitchen table or as a bird in tree overlooking a meadow with Ora and Avram, seeing, hearing and feeling the story unfold. Fortunately I had not read any reviews before reading the book so the ending was quite a surprise but that too made it stand out. I highly recommend this novel. My sincere thanks to the author for sharing this with me.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,315 reviews92 followers
September 7, 2010
Despite Nicole Krauss’s ridiculously glowing review, I never felt this book was powerful, shattering or unflinching. Ora is a middle-aged Israeli mother of two who flees to the Galilean countryside when her youngest son Ofer volunteers for combat in a conflict taking place in 2000. She is desperate to escape any news of the battle and her son’s fate, so she brings an old friend Avram along with her on a trek through the wilderness. The entire novel is basically Ora’s reflection on her son, her family’s dynamics, and her complex relationship with her former lover Avram and her ex-husband Ilan.

Initially, the story was difficult to get into, as the first chapter was very stylized. It introduced Ora, Avram and Ilan as teenagers, but the lack of quotes and the structure of the narrative was confusing. When the story then picks up in 2000, I was frustrated with the long, rambling paragraphs, the brief scenes that seem to go on for endless pages, and several disjointed episodes that contributed little to the overall plot. Perhaps it’s because I’m not a mother and therefore I cannot relate to the nuances of motherhood that Ora ponders, but her constant appraisal of Ofer became exhausting. I also found it odd that a male author fixated so much on the intimacy of breastfeeding. I admit, there was some great history of the constant conflict in Israel, but I think the author assumed the reader already had a general knowledge of recent Israeli affairs. I think the attempt at lyricism was lost in translation from the original Hebrew, because the descriptiveness was tedious, not poetic. While there were some aspects of the book I really liked, overall it was almost 600 pages of inner dialogue and contemplation. I was especially disappointed with the conclusion and felt that the characters and situations I had invested so much time in were unfinished and the entire struggle was unresolved.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,015 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.