This Year in Jerusalem

This Year in Jerusalem

by Mordecai Richler
     
 

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Part memoir, part history, part political commentary - and all Richler - This Year in Jerusalem is a personal, passionate, and quirkily comic examination of the idea of Israel-as-homeland: for Jews, for Palestinians, and, not least, for the author himself. Richler re-creates the Montreal of his adolescence - the local Zionist youth organization functioning as an… See more details below

Overview

Part memoir, part history, part political commentary - and all Richler - This Year in Jerusalem is a personal, passionate, and quirkily comic examination of the idea of Israel-as-homeland: for Jews, for Palestinians, and, not least, for the author himself. Richler re-creates the Montreal of his adolescence - the local Zionist youth organization functioning as an escape from the zealous Hasidism of his grandfathers; the idea of emigration to Israel growing into a shimmering dream for himself and his friends. And, going to Israel to look up his old pals from St. Urbain Street, he shows us what happened to those who actually did "make aliyah" - who settled in the cities and on the kibbutzim, survived the turmoils of war, and are faced today with the opportunities and dangers of peace with the Palestinians. He shows us, as well, the course of his own migration - away from Zionism and through the maze of his own sense of Judaism until he rediscovers his true homeland: "I owe as much to the thin gruel of my Canadian experience as I do to my Jewish provenance." Woven through his story are his fond (and not so fond) recollections of his family, his encounters in today's Israel with the kids he grew up with in Montreal a million years ago, and his most mordant observations on the state of the state of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Witty, intelligent, well reasoned, and across-the-board provocative, here is Mordecai Richler at his inimitable - and controversial - best.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Richler's sharply observed memoir-a yeasty mix of travel, reminiscence, history and political commentary-charts his odyssey from the activist Zionism of his youth in Montreal to his current belief that Israel is ``the legitimate home of two peoples'' and that the Israeli Jews' displacement and dispossession of native Palestinians was not justified. The book's centerpiece, Richler's 1992 trip to Israel amid rioting in Gaza in support of a hunger strike by more than 3000 Palestinian prisoners, culminates with a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp. There he interviews a woman whose son, a stone-throwing protester, was arrested and tortured by Israelis and, after his release, shot to death by Israeli soldiers. Novelist and screenwriter Richler also visits struggling kibbutzim and traces the history of the kibbutz movement. On the 1993 peace accord, he predicts that if the Likud party returns to power soon, the Palestinians will get no more than the Gaza Strip and Jericho and can forget about statehood. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In this predominately autobiographical work, novelist Richler (Solomon Gursky Was Here, LJ 4/1/94) focuses on his youth in Montreal in the Forties and two visits to Israel. Rejecting his Orthodox Jewish upbringing, he passionately embraced Zionism in his early teens and became an active member of the Habonim. By his early adulthood his ardor had cooled, and he settled in London. He disassociated himself completely from things Jewish, relating an incident from the Fifties when he invited a friend to sample Jewish cuisine in Paris-only to find that the restaurant was closed for Yom Kippur. His first trip to the Jewish state, in 1962, was prompted by a journalism assignment. And he didn't return until 30 years later-again on a subsidized mission. There is no indication that in the intervening years he was interested in Middle East affairs. During both trips he sought out left-wing spokesmen, so his fervent espousal of the Arab Palestinian cause appears vacuous. Not recommended.-Carol R. Glatt, VA Medical Ctr., Philadelphia
George Cohen
In an insightful and perceptive book, Richler mixes memoir, history, and political commentary in exploring the idea of Israel as a homeland for Jews as well as Palestinians. Richler, a Canadian Jew, writes of the Montreal of his youth and the three youth groups there that were committed to the concept of an independent Jewish state; of his maternal grandfather (a celebrated Hasidic scholar); of his divorced mother, who ran a kosher boardinghouse in Canada's Laurentian Mountains during the 1940s; and of his Hebrew teachers and his friends. He discusses his visits to Israel and his friends who emigrated to Israel and settled in kibbutzim. Richler's caustic and keen examination of the state of Israel and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, combined with his warm reminiscences, makes this an important book by an important writer.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679436102
Publisher:
Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/06/1994
Pages:
3
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 8.68(h) x 1.15(d)

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