Israeli Literature: A Reader's Guide

Hebrew literature in translation.

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Journalist and writer David Grossman (1954-) takes on some of the most sensitive subjects in Israeli society in his novels, including the legacy of the Holocaust, in the brilliant See Under: Love, and the disillusionment of a young soldier, in The Smile of the Lamb.

Palestinian-Israeli writer Anton Shammas (1950-) provoked a major controversy in Israel in 1986 when he published the Hebrew novel Arabesques, an exploration of Palestinian identity that weaves together personal stories, history, and fantasy into a rich and dense narrative.

Zeruya Shalev's (1959-) popular novels focus on family dynamics in Israeli society andthe pressures of marriage. With lyrical prose and deep psychological insight, books like Husband and Wife investigate the mind and desires of contemporary Israeli women.

Orly Castel-Bloom (1960-) has written many stories and novels that capture the fragmentation of contemporary Israeli society. Her satirical novel Human Parts chronicles the exploits of a series of complex women, offering a fascinating portrait of Israeli life with a strange and often surreal sense of humor.

One of the best known Israeli writers to emerge in the 1990s is Etgar Keret (1967-), whose stories, children's books, and graphic novels have been extremely popular. His short-short stories, collected in Bus Driver Who Wanted to Be God and Other Stories and The Nimrod Flipout: Stories, are filled with cynicism, humor, irony, sexuality, and Israeli pop culture.

Deftly evoking Jewish life in Iran in Persian Brides and Iranian families in Israel in Strand of a Thousand Pearls, Dorit Rabinyan's (1972-) lyrical novels offer rich emotional portraits of family life, especially the psychological and emotional dimensions of female characters.

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Naomi Brenner is completing a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on the many connections and interactions between modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature.