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The unforgivable truth

One of Israel's great national authors can finally be read in English. Sixty years after Israel's birth, his words remain resonant

By Ruth Padel   June 2008

Khirbet Khizeh by S Yizhar (Ibis, $16.95)

Preliminaries by S Yizhar (Toby Press, £14.99)

Samuel Beckett’s novel Molloy, a central text in the modernist canon, was published in 1951. Two years earlier, an equally powerful modernist novella, Khirbet Kizeh, appeared from the Israeli writer Yizhar Smilansky (who took the pen name S Yizhar), writing not in French, like Beckett, but in Hebrew, an ancient tongue reforged as a spoken language less than 100 years earlier. Yizhar was born in 1916 in Ottoman Palestine, the son of an idealistic Russian immigrant who farmed by day and wrote journalism at night. Khirbet…

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