Saturday, June 23, 2012

Meeting the writer Amos Oz

I had the fortune to attend a talk given by the world famous writer, Amos Oz. He is probably the most well-known Israeli writer -  his books have been translated into more than 30 languages and he was won several honors and awards.  
The Israeli writer, Amos O
Our town's wonderful library staff organized this meeting with Amos Oz as part of the Hebrew Book Week celebrations. I have read a few of his books that have been translated into English but I must admit that I have not yet been courageous enough to read any of his books in Hebrew - the language that they were written in. My children's books, the newspaper and a few websites is as far as I will dare!

For about an hour and a half Amos Oz kept us spell-bound with stories about how he writes (why is that always so fascinating?), his favorite way of reading a book and also why he thinks that books will stay with us forever.

Even though books may change their form and not be printed on paper in the future, they will still stay an important part of our culture. Reading is an interactive form of creativity and according to Amos Oz the reader partners 50% with the writer to tell the story.

If the writer writes about a sunset, the reader sees a sunset in her mind. A person living in Antarctica will probably think of an Antarctican sunset and a reader in the desert will most likely think of the sun setting down over a desert's horizon. Every reader 'writes' the story differently as she reads the book.

Swimming In Sunset
How do the sunsets look like where you live?

As Amos Oz talked and trapped us in his beautiful words, I just realized what an amazing writer he really is. He told us that books are written in a quiet room and eventually they end up and are read again in a quiet room. But between these quiet rooms they have to cross a raging street of publicity, and talks and book signings. Isn't that a lovely image!

He also read from his new book "Between Friends" - a book about the people living on a kibbutz. He himself lived on a kibbutz for many years and wrote in wonderful detail about the different interactions between the kibbutzniks. He told us how surprised he was that overseas readers enjoy his books about the kibbutz. Surely they do not have any knowledge about the kibbutz dining room or how the communal laundry works? But then again people, and the feelings they have are the same the world over.

It was great meeting such a wonderful writer who talked so beautifully about books. One may not agree 100% with his political views but anybody who likes to smell newly printed (just like I do) is okay in my book!

He might have even inspired me to read  literature in Hebrew!

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