Amos Oz 1939–
Israeli novelist and short story writer.
Amos Oz is acclaimed for his stories of Israeli life, particularly those set in the kibbutz, which he writes with critical affection, having been a kibbutznik himself for many years. His first book, Makom aher (1966; Elsewhere, Perhaps), is a look at the singular problems and relationships experienced in such a community. It was followed by Mikha'el sheli (1968; My Michael), a psychological profile of the fantasy life of an Israeli housewife, which introduces Oz's controversial contention that Jews and Arabs have ambivalent, rather than purely hostile, feelings for each other.
Oz's themes include the destructiveness of Judeophobia upon both the hater and the hated, the interrelationship of all human experience, tensions between community and individuality, and the shifting border between the real and the surreal. Laga'ath ba-mayim, la-ga'ath ba-ruah (1973; Touch the Water, Touch the Wind) develops his ideas of reality. The characters are always in search of the elusive ideal, something to be found only in "another place," never here and now.
Oz creates his fiction from the political and historical heritage of Israel and its traditional relationships with surrounding lands. A repeated motif in his novels is that of borders which keep people both together and apart. Oz longs for the union of disparate peoples, though he understands the improbability of his wish. In a recent book of short stories, Where the Jackals Howl (1981), he uses his recurring symbol of the jackal to represent the ever-present threat to Israel from beyond its borders.
Many critics insist that Oz should be recognized as a writer of international stature, not only for his revealing portrayal of Israel, but also for the outstanding artistry of his fiction.
(See also CLC, Vols. 5, 8, 11 and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 53-56.)