Grossman Discusses Israeli Literature

Israeli novelist and political activist David Grossman shared the stories that influenced his latest award-winning novel, “To the End of Our Land,” at a guest lecture Tuesday night.

An audience of young and old packed a Science Center auditorium to hear Grossman discuss the important role literature plays in helping individuals explore their identity.

Grossman discussed his latest novel, which tells the story of a Jewish mother, Ora, who runs away to avoid hearing about the possible death of her son, who has been called to serve in the Israeli army.

“As parents,” Grossman said, “we do so many things for our children ... because we believe that by doing them, we are telling God or fate that we are doing our share ... and they too should do their share and spare this child.”

The novel has a semi-authobiographical tinge—just as Grossman was completing “To the End of Our Land,” the author’s own son died while fighting in the Second Lebanon War.

Praising writing as a medium, Grossman said that his craft allows him to explore different facets of his personality.

“Writing told me that there is no greater pleasure than being able—gradually, and sometimes it takes years—to remove these cataracts and surrender to this feeling,” Grossman said.

Grossman also shared his own experiences as a soldier during the First Lebanon War. His experience visiting refugee camps helped inspire the content of his novels.

Irit Aharony, the head of Harvard’s Modern Hebrew Studies Program, said that Grossman’s novels are an example of how Israeli literature can play a role in relating human experiences.

Grossman’s first two novels were named among the ten most important books since the creation of Israel, Aharony said.

“Israel appears in the newspapers mostly regarding politics,” Aharony said. She added that Grossman’s novels reflect Israel’s body of literature that relates to feelings, such as pain and love.

“He is such a fantastic author,” said Joanna F. Behrman ’13, a student who attended the event. “He knows the ins and outs of the Hebrew language and gives added depth to an already rich language.”

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