- Published: 03/02/2011
- ISBN: 9781847083944
- 128 pages
Translated by Yaacob Dweck, Nicholas de Lange
This 1949 novella about the violent expulsion of Palestinian villagers by the Israeli army has long been considered a modern Hebrew masterpiece, and it has also given rise to fierce controversy over the years. Published just months after the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Khirbet Khizeh (the ‘kh’ pronounced like the ‘ch’ in ‘Bach’) was an immediate sensation when it first appeared. Thousands of Israeli Jews rushed to read it, the critics began to argue about it, and a Palestinian journalist in Nablus described it as a sign that the Israeli army had a conscience and that peace was possible. Since then, the book has continued to challenge and disturb. The various debates it has prompted would themselves make Khirbet Khizeh worth reading, but the novella is much more than a vital historical document: it is also a great work of art. Yizhar’s haunting, lyrical style and charged registration of the landscape are in many ways as startling as his wrenchingly honest view of one of Israel’s defining moments. Despite its international reputation, this is the first UK publication of Khirbet Khizeh.
It's subject is so painful, its execution so charged, so wildly beautiful, its moral ambivalence so incendiary and eloquent that one has to put it down every few pages ... the mighty rush of its prose, with its creative syntax, its long, fibrous sentences, its combination of impassioned, unbridled lyricism and colloquial speech, is exhilarating ... How often can you say of a harrowing, unquiet book that it makes you wrestle with your soul
Neel Mukherjee, The Times
The luminous account of the clearing of an Arab village during the'48 war -- and of a protest that never quite leaves the throat of its narrator as the houses are demolished and the villagers driven from their land. It is a tribute to an open society that this novella was for many years required reading for Israeli schoolchildren. Khirbet Khizet remains painfully relevant, and the moral questioning lives on.
Ian McEwan, Jerusalem Prize Acceptance Speech
Yizhar's extraordinary tale narrates the need, and the price, of remembering