See Under: Love by David Grossman

 

Quiet, solitary Momik is nine years old and is the only child of Holocaust survivors now settled in Israel who refuse to speak about what happened "over there" in the Europe they fled. The unexpected delivery by ambulance of his demented grandfather helps confirm the boy's belief in the puzzle of the Jew-devouring Beast. The narrative then moves to wartime Danzig and a series of fantastical encounters between writer Bruno Schultz - who died in a Nazi death camp - and a narrator. The third section is directly concerned with the art of storytelling as a way of survival, while the final and weakest section leads the novel to an overly clever deconstructionist conclusion. Even so, See Under: Love is a major achievement. First published in English in 1989 in a translation which Grossman once described as "far more carefully worked than the Hebrew original", this controversial, complex, beautifully and confusedly written quest novel of passion and experimentation not only confronts the horrors of history, it celebrates the role of the storyteller, and above all, highlights the massive influence Gunter Grass's innovative style of fabulist polemic has had on international fiction. It also suggests that in Grossman, Israel has a gifted, angry and humane writer worthy to stand almost shoulder to shoulder with the great Amos Oz.