I’ve been reading two classic novels by Meir Shalev in Hebrew, in the hope of reviving my extant but waning Hebrew reading skills.
The one completed some time ago was Roman Rusi (“A Russian Novel,” translated), which was changed to The Blue Mountain. A lot hangs on the translation, naturally, but having read “Roman Rusi” (aka “The Blue Mountain“) both in English and Hebrew, I can say Hillel Halkin’s translation of that book was superb.
Shalev, for the richness of his descriptions and the depth of the depictions and characters (down to the animals), is up there with the greatest writers. Nabokov of the Israelis? Maybe, but Shalev doesn’t have Nabokov’s prurient preoccupied with decadence.
Even finer than “The Blue Mountain” is “As A Few Days,” which is currently tearing at my heart. Read it (and my non-fiction books, of course). It also goes by the title “Four Meals” or “The Loves of Judith.”
Amos Oz was not a good writer, Tom Segev. He had nothing on Agnon, of whom he was madly jealous, or on Meir Shalev, a literary giant. I recently completed Oz’ latest door-stopper in Hebrew: undisciplined, cumbersome, narcissistic. Absolutely no literary finesse.