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Cohen takes an in-depth critical look at three novelists and two poets who stand at the forefront of contemporary Israeli literature, and whose works have been widely read, studied, and admired in the Western world. The critiques examine all English translations of these Israeli writers' major works from the beginning of their careers up to the present. Cohen demonstrates the vitality and virtuosity of the so-called New Wave Israeli writers whose sources and influences are as ancient as the stories of the Hebrew Bible and as modern as the interiorization of reality found in Proust, Faulkner, Woolf, and Joyce; and the literary adaptation of relativity found in Borges, Lowry, and Durrell.
Complementing the critiques are interviews with the five Israeli writers. The issues discussed--the relation of politics and literature, the influence of literature on life, the role of the writer in society, the moral responsibility of the writer--combine with the essays to provide comprehensive insight into the contemporary Israeli psyche.
Joseph Cohen is Professor of English at Tulane University.