I lived for nearly 18 years on a kibbutz. Amos Oz, who passed a way a few weeks ago, also lived for a number of years on a kibbutz. This collection of stories takes place on a fictional kibbutz, with a cast of characters who pop up in each other’s stories and lives.
One of the striking things about living on a kibbutz was how one knew people as neighbours, friends, co-workers, lovers. No one was just “the guy who repaired the shoes” or “the woman who worked with the chickens”. Everyone was three dimensional, and that is clear in these wonderful stories.
It is a sensitive, accurate, and somewhat sad account of what used to be called “the experiment that did not fail”. The final chapter, “Esperanto” was especially beautiful, and one has to wonder if Oz was deliberatedly comparing the twin dreams of a universal language and that of a more equal and more just society.