To the End of
resonates with the sorrowful knowledge that David Grossman’s son
Uri was killed in the 2006 Lebanon war while he was at work on the
book. Grossman began writing the novel in 2003 when his younger son
Uri had just enlisted. He says in the epilogue:
time, I had the feeling—or rather, a wish—that the book I was
writing would protect him.”
After Uri’s death, Grossman went on to complete the manuscript,
which had mostly been written:
”What changed, above all, was the echo of the reality in which the
final draft was written.”
this echo is there not only in the writing but also in the
reading—this lovely and haunting story where an Israeli woman, Ora,
decides to protect her son Ofer who has just re-enlisted for a
28-day tour of duty by going on a long trek. To walk the
length of Israel to ‘the end of the land’ in some magical quest of
her own making.
slopes of Mt. Hermon
Israel Ministry of Tourism)
look north, to the purple-misted Hermon, and to the Hula Valley and
the green Naphtali mountain range.'
the initially reluctant Avram (her ex-lover and also the father of
Ofer) to accompany her on this long hike (her husband Ilan has
recently left her and is with her older son in South America).
Ora’s attempt to both capture and hold fast Ofer in the retelling
of his life to Avram as they walk, and her poignant notion of
out-maneuvering the notifiers by not being at home:
will be no one to receive this notice, and so it will not be
A vow she has made:
this is the law she must now obey: not to stay in one place for
too long, not to be a sitting target—for people or thoughts.’
These are rules and stipulations for her own survival, for Ofer’s
survival. And the long walk as metaphor:
have to go from point to point, you can’t skip anything.
It's like the trail is teaching us to walk at its pace."
name, Ofer, chosen from a verse in the Song of Songs:
My love is
like a young hart – Domech dodi le’Ofer ayalim
A young hart
she now wants to protect by taking this journey; also the plangent
hollow echo of the idea of losing one’s child to a war that one is
not entirely convinced about.
leading liberal writer in Israel, together with writers A.
B. Yehoshua and Amos Oz had publicly denounced the escalation of
the Second Lebanon war before the death of his son. Grossman
is also the man who refused to shake hands with Ehud Olmert at an
awards ceremony, and about which event he has said,
action speaks for itself; the interpretation, I leave to others.”
this novel he speaks most eloquently, as if to say that signs and
signals are never enough, as if compelled to pour his very heart
out, so that in the very detailing of the nuances of the physical
and the emotional the constant threat of devastation is somehow
To the End of
a wake for the living and the dead, for life in contemporary
Israel and for the death of his son and all the soldiers lost in
battle: a lament that encompasses war and bereavement but that
also rejoices in life itself as it lingers on moments of love, of
childhood, of the traumas of war, of this journey in the Galilee
with its lovely landscape of terebinths and spurge....
To the End of