David Grossman's _To the End of the Land_ is a heart-rending, kaleidoscopic look at the ongoing situation in Israel and Palestine experienced from the vantage point of one unconventional family. The tenuous marriage between Ora and Ilan finally fractures under the weight of what happened to their best friend - and Ora's former lover - Avram, when he was taken as a POW as a young man serving in the IDF. When Ora's youngest son elects to extend his service to participate in a dangerous operation, she knows his chances are slim. She performs a "soft kidnap" on Avram, and embarks on a secular pilgrimage through the wilderness in a superstitious push to keep her son alive by avoiding those who could bring the news of his death.

The novel's lush tone and the narrator's unusually empathic voice provide deeply multidimensional characters. The narrative itself has a stream-of-consciousness feel that is deceptive - for all the lovely flow and music of the writing, every word in the book is obviously weighed, and chosen carefully. The writing is so powerful and playful one can hardly imagine _To the End of the Land_ is a translation; but it is, and the translator (Jessica Cohen) has outdone herself. Grossman uses double and triple meanings as well as clever puns and dark humour to layer shades of humanity into a complex and inhumane situation. These shades of meaning provide stunning insights into the creeping, cumulative way the ongoing conflict infects every aspect of life for Israelis and Palestinians, creating tiny flashes of extremism and empathy by turns among even the secular and apolitical. _To the End of the Land_ is a beautiful, deeply moving book recommended for anyone desiring a deeper understanding of the conflict in Israel and Palestine.

AnneDromeda's rating:
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