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Between Friends

Between Friends

Author(s): Amos Oz

Location(s): Israel

Genre(s): Short Stories

Era(s): 1950s

Location

Content

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His new short story collection, Between Friends, is set on a fictional Israeli kibbutz in the 1950s, and portrays a way of life that in recent years has been modified or abandoned altogether by younger generations.
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The sense of a protective, encircling community increasingly gives way to an atmosphere of claustrophobia and constriction. The humans are as cooped up as the chickens, their foibles and frailties mercilessly dissected in dining-room gossip, led by the sharp-eyed, sharp-tongued Roni. When tensions in Roni’s own life boil over one night and he strikes a child for bullying his young son, the gossips turn on him.

There is little privacy in this community of “friends” and the personal price of its absence is almost unbearable at times. As Oz draws us deeper into his characters’ lives, the very word “friends” feels problematic. It’s never made clear who is telling these stories. Steeped as they are in feelings and thoughts only the characters themselves could know, the narrator appears to be the author, yet every now and then, Oz drops in a short, jarring “we”, as if these acutely personal tales are in the collective domain, known by, and the property of, all. The sense of encroachment is as subtle as it is discomforting.
Rebecca Adams

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