Until now, Oz has never written about his unhappy mother and the January day in 1952 when she walked back through the rain to a moldy flat and an overdose of sedatives...He will make up for that erasure with this indelible memoir, circling so often around the wound, inching up and closing in, that finally Fania's furious son has no other ground to stand on … A Tale of Love and Darkness also mourns the death of the socialist-Zionist dream of a just society and a strange new nationalism, predicated on research universities and string quartets, on comparative literature and experimental agriculture, that turned instead into an acid reflux of checkpoints, demolitions, transit camps, penal colonies and strategic hamlets...And yet, determined to remember every minute leading up to his mother's suicide, he also sees through a child's eye the prelude to statehood in a Promised Land.'
Oz's memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, thought to be the biggest-selling literary work in Israeli history, is an exploration of why his mother killed herself, and the effect on him, a sensitive, intelligent boy growing up in Jerusalem during the last years of the British mandate and the war of independence. It is one of the funniest, most tragic and most touching books I have ever read … He reveals a huge talent for the big narrative picture, for Dickensian character portraits and an expert fusion of history and personal life … Oz's book is a testament to a family, a time and a place. And throughout it there is the voice of the child who, 50 years later, still cries out for his dead mother.
[Oz’s] memoir, in a translation that preserves the author’s gorgeous, discursive style and his love of wordplay, is a social history embedded within an autobiography … The book is a modernist collage. At times, Oz gives it entirely over to its constituent characters and their stories and soliloquies. The structure leaves Oz prone to excessive digressions and redundancies, some of which come across as either unintentional or unintentionally jarring. In these sometimes meandering asides, Oz seems to be asking the reader’s indulgence. But he richly rewards a patient audience over the bulk of this sophisticated and searing memorial.