Israel’s literary scene has flourished in the past decade, receiving international recognition in the process. From a collection of absurdist yet poignant short stories to an epic survey of our human species recommended by Barack Obama, these seven, critically acclaimed books by Israeli writers need to be added to your reading list urgently.
A Tale of Love and Darkness, Amos Oz (2005)
Arguably Israel’s greatest literary export, Amos Oz is most famous for this masterful autobiographical memoir/family history that has since been adapted into a hit movie featuring Natalie Portman. An epic tale set against the backdrop of the dramatic and tumultuous conditions in Palestine and the formation of the Israeli state, Oz presents a complex portrait of his teenage self and his attempts to redefine his identity following his mother’s suicide. A book of tragedy and triumph, on personal and historical levels, this should be number one on your reading list.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Suddenly, a Knock on the Door, Etgar Keret (2012)
Etgar Keret, praised as a “genius” by The New York Times, is Israel’s master of the short story. This book consists of a series of highly inventive and often absurd fantastical short stories, full of metaphors, symbolism, and humor. Focusing on the inner whims of Israeli society and everyday life, this book is thought-provoking and poignant in equal measure.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari (2014)
If you are curious to learn how homo sapiens came to rule the world, and want to read a book recommended by Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barack Obama, then this is the book for you. Harari, a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, provides a fascinating and highly thought-provoking account of our species that deservedly became an international bestseller. His follow up book, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, is equally intriguing.
My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, Ari Shavit (2013)
A New York Times bestseller, this book offers a captivating narrative of Israel’s history and the complexities of its society, making use of historical documents, diaries, and interviews. Shavit, whose love for his country is clear, does not shy away from uncomfortable truths and asks pertinent, existential questions about the Jewish state. The result is a powerful, highly nuanced portrait of this minuscule, deeply troubled yet miraculous nation.
Let It Be Morning, Sayed Kashua (2006)
Kashua is Israel’s most famous Arab-Israeli writer. In Let It Be Morning, an Arab journalist moves back to his hometown, a small Arab village in Israel, only to find himself plagued by a struggle for identity and belonging due to the turbulent situation he finds himself in. Kashua offers sharp insights into the condition and predicaments of Israel’s Arab population (who make up 20% of the country) in this intimate and often chilling novel.
A Horse Walks into a Bar, David Grossman (2017)
Winner of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, Grossman’s latest novel revolves around a comedian performing in a small Israeli town. It uses humor to dissect the protagonist’s incredibly dark and personal story, with the outcome widely considered to be a literary masterpiece.
The Hilltop, Assaf Gavron (2015)
This work of fiction earned Gavron international acclaim along with the prestigious Bernstein literary prize. The story revolves around the lives of inhabitants in a settlement in Israel’s West Bank, and in the process acutely uncovers the sharp contradictions that plague Israeli society.
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