RaveMoment MagThis slim novel (Ozick rarely writes long) is not merely a gem but also a tiny peephole into the purpose of living in a world that outlasts us. I devoured it in one sitting and then thought about it for days, trying to solve its puzzle ... Petrie’s unexamined anti-Semitism here is structural to the plot as well as to the world we live in; we readers are enlisted to sweep up such shards and stones from Petrie’s narrative, the necessary archaeological sifting work for the gradual revelation of what this vast edifice of elitism conceals ... It is, as both Petrie and Deuteronomy put it, not in the heavens. Much of this novel will seem rambling and tangential to readers unfamiliar with Ozick’s style, but part of her alchemy is how each sentence upon rereading is revealed to be essential to the puzzle, another hidden clue, although often to a world outside the text. For a book ostensibly about a childhood encounter, for instance, most of its pages are taken up with Petrie’s daily life in old age, with its losses great and small ... Ozick’s work is deeply Jewish, which means that knowledge is required to recognize its depth. It is a profoundly acquired taste, acquired through years of communal thought about the meaning of worshiping an eternal God during an ephemeral life. Petrie himself would never get it, although Elefantin would. Antiquities is classic Ozick, marvelous Ozick, Ozick at the height of her powers. She has of course been at the height of her powers for at least 50 years by now, but that only makes her ongoing creativity an even greater gift to those readers lucky enough to encounter it and to give it the attention it boldly demands.
Amos Oz, Trans. by Jessica Cohen
PanThe Washington Post\"Oz is a world-class literary master of such [complicated] situations, but Dear Zealots is not at all open-ended. It is full of Oz’s unambiguous condemnations of other people’s zealotry, and perhaps inevitably, it descends into a single-mindedness of its own ... Asking those [difficult] questions is what literature does best, and Oz poses them magnificently in his fiction. But this book is no novel, and Oz does very little imagining here. What emerges instead is an eloquent description of Jewish culture’s \'vibrant anarchist gene that engenders constant and vehement dispute,\' and the tradition’s appetite for multiple perspectives and interpretations ... I love Oz’s novels and memoirs, which have often recalibrated my thinking. For these reasons I was disappointed to find this book lacking in imagination, especially regarding the evolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in our current century. Ultimately it leaves far too much from the past 20 years unsaid ... It feels like an even greater betrayal for Oz to wrap up his prophecies with a cute one-liner such as: \'It’s hard to be a prophet in the land of prophets. There’s too much competition\' ... it’s time for Oz’s imagination to come up with some new material.\