Saturday’s Book: “Don’t Call it Night” by Amos Oz

It’s not surprising that I’m reading this book because a friend recommended it. Isn’t that what happens when you talk to people about books?

What I find amusing is that the friend who recommended this book by an Israeli writer (originally written in Hebrew) is Vicky Loras, my Greek / Canadian friend currently living in Switzerland who read the book in English!

I’ve read quite a few books by Amos Oz, but not recently. After his mind boggling autobiography “A Tale of Love and Darkness” (which is not an easy read, by the way,  but so very powerful) I sort of felt that after reading such a book the author’s other works would pale beside this one.

This book was written 10 years before the autobiography (which came out in 2004) It isn’t as good as some of his other books but is still very good. I think one of the things I enjoy best about Oz’s books is that he deals with the enormous complexity of relationships without a need to resort to techniques I despise – techniques such as “your uncle is really your father”, etc.

If Vicky enjoyed it then I’m sure the translator was good (I’m reading it in Hebrew). The (impolite word of your choice) editors of the Hebrew edition (1994) are required to supply a title in English on the back side of the front page. They wrote : “Don’t Pronounce it Night”. Happily the translators dealt with the title better!

4 thoughts on “Saturday’s Book: “Don’t Call it Night” by Amos Oz”

  1. Hi Naomi!

    I am so happy you read the book – it is good (agree, not one of his best, but good ; ). Thank you so much for the mention!

    The translator is Nicholas de Lange. I think I have read only one book which was not translated by him and you could tell the difference. De Lange’s language is so lucid and flows so nocely…I wish I could read it in Hebrew! Wouldn’t it be great if we could speak all languages and red them all from the original text? (That is what I used to say when I was much younger ; )

    Have you read “Rhyming Life and Death” by Oz? It was okay, again not one of his best ones, but good.

    Thank you so much!


  2. Vicky!
    I imagined that Amos Oz would have a good translator. I once attended a lecture with Meir Shalev’s translator (he’s also first rate!) and was so impressed. He explained how he dealt with all kinds of translating dilemmas.
    Funny thing – do you remember the part where Noa picks up a long haired hitchiker with a big backpack close to a teacher’s college? My youngest is going to attend a special 10 month program there on that exact campus. He’ll be living at the dorms so he’ll be travelling with his big backpack and he now wears his hair long! I feverently hope that he won’t hitchike, though!

    Haven’t read that Amos Oz book either!

  3. Oh wow! The translator must have given you a lot of insight, that would be so interesting I am sure!

    I remember the part where she picks up the hitchhiker – the one who was looking for the girl! And your son will be there too? Wow!!!!

    Wouldn’t it be great if we wrote to Amos Oz and show him your post and our observations? I am not sure where he lives, it must say somewhere in his books : )

    Thanks again for a great post!

  4. He lives in a real town in the South (as opposed to the book) called Arad. He knows first hand what its like to live near a dessert. I don’t live in that area at all.
    He’s not of those writers who have a blog or a website where they enable readers to write to them, as far as I can see.

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