Yoram Kaniuk Herbert Kupferberg - Essay

Herbert Kupferberg

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

"The Acrophile" is a story touched by hallucination and abounding in symbols. One does not always comprehend [the protagonist] Daani's motivations, follow his thought convolutions, or sympathize with his self-torment. But one respects his search for sanity in an unbalanced universe, and one reads his story suspense fully to its unexpectedly wry climax.

Even if the world Mr. Kaniuk depicts is more than slightly out of joint, it is populated by some strangely appealing beings…. [They] are fleeting characters, half real, half seen through Daani's strange imagination, yet all weave in and out of the story as human beings whose story is at once lifelike and fanciful….

This is a curious sort of book, part novel, part parable, part—one suspects—autobiography. It deals with people who are rootless, unhappy and lonely. Since its events are viewed through the eyes of one who is bedeviled by doubt and remorse, and has an impossible ambition to satisfy, it doesn't pretend to see life whole and see it plain. But, with sensitivity of insight and simplicity of language, it creates its own picture of the strange twists of soul and mind that bring human beings together, and set them apart.

Herbert Kupferberg, "Symbolic, Wry Tale of Israel," in New York Herald Tribune (© I.H.T. Corporation; reprinted by permission), February 26, 1961, p. 34.