Grossman’s evocative gifts are in full force ... reminded me of fiction’s ability to evoke an often intuited but rarely articulated atmospherics of place ... There are many stories within stories in the novel, like concentric circles whirring in the air. Some are underdeveloped...some seem like clanking, superfluous devices rather than intrinsic to the plot...and yet others are alluded to too belatedly and briefly to be successfully integrated into of the novel ... The result is a certain amount of confusion and unnecessary distraction from the main events, yet such is this writer’s skill and generosity of vision that More Than I Love My Life moves beyond its flaws to cast a spell that lingers. Grossman is especially good on women, presenting them as complex and nuanced characters, and his understanding of the opaque ways of love — sometimes subterranean, often unexpected or arbitrary — is unmatched ... David Grossman is one of our outstanding contemporary writers and I have sometimes thought that, despite all the accolades that have come his way, he hasn’t been given his full due because he happens to be an Israeli, although one who is often deeply critical of his country’s actions and moral quandaries. To read him is to understand that there is a world beyond the political, even in these re-tribalized times, one in which there is room for recognition, however incomplete and often painful, of who we are in our own eyes and in one another’s.
Grossman’s genius for captivating storytelling is once again on triumphant display as he writes as affectingly about the great themes that have long stirred his imagination ... Cohen rewards us with a superb translation. Readers may be intrigued to learn that More Than I Love My Life is based on a true story. Yet even without that knowledge, this startling and achingly tender story gracefully delivers both historical and emotional verisimilitude. This intergenerational novel about shattered lives and ideals, impossible loves, grief, and healing is as moving a story as one could hope for from Israel’s consummate novelist of trauma, empathy, and the redemptive possibilities of storytelling.
Vera, Nina and Gili are memorable characters, each suffering in different but equally profound ways. Grossman effectively inhabits the consciousnesses of these women and doesn’t spare the reader any of their considerable emotional pain. He’s a sympathetic if unfailingly honest chronicler of their anguish. A reader doesn’t have to identify with the particulars of the women’s stories to appreciate how the consequences of fateful choices can reverberate down through the generations.