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The Book of Israel

by Jeremy Gavron

The story of one family's passage through a century of love, war, peace, and changing attitudes. It's also a book that reflects the wider issues faced by the jewish faith and people. I constantly had to re-evaluate my opinions of the main characters, as they are always seen through the eyes of others, leading me to question what I thought I knew during the book. Although I began to feel a deeper air of sadness the further I got into the book, it was also one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Extract

You want to know something? When I got to Germiston and I saw the little grocery store with the house behind, the roof held down by stones on each corner, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. All I ever heard at home was Israel the genius, Israel the rabbi, how the whole world would know Israel, how Israel would save our family. Every day I was told I was nothing compared to this Israel. Once or twice a year a pale thin young man I barely knew would come home for a week or two, spend most of his time reading books, smoke a few cigarettes, then go again and we wouldn't see him until the next holidays. If he said two words to me I thought I had been blessed. The last time I saw him before I came to Germiston was ten years earlier riding away on a cart like a prince leaving his kingdom, my mother weeping, my father staring after him until he was a speck in the distance. And now here he was, this genius, standing behind the counter of this little store like some store from home with a few tins and sacks on the shelves, counting his pennies.

Parallels

The Song of Names by Norman Lebrecht
Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally
 

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