Quest for roots & destiny

When I was little, my ambition was to grow up to be a book ... however hard you try to destroy them, there is always a chance that (somewhere) a copy will survive.” Born in 1939 in Jerusalem, Amos Oz is the only child of eastern European Jews.

His father, a librarian, is a tireless talker. His mother is a silent observer. Oz grows

up a day-dreamer, in a loving and stimulating milieu. He is hilarious on the subject of Jews and physical exercise, his grandmother’s relentless battle with “the germs”, or his family’s vacillations between Hebrew cheese and traitorous (but cheaper and tastier) Arab cheese.

Tracing his family’s roots through Russia and Poland to Israel, Oz comes to the tragedy of his mother’s suicide when he was 12, with all its painful consequences. The winner of eight international awards, this is a long, digressive tale, a memoir told like a novel, so eloquently written that it becomes utterly engrossing.

(A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz, translated by Nicholas de Lange, Vintage, £7.99)