Scenes from Village Life by Amos Oz - review by Carole Angier

Carole Angier

Dark Nights of the Soul

Scenes from Village Life


Chatto & Windus 265pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

This is a very strange book. But apart from his memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, it may be the best in Oz’s long and brilliant career.

It consists of seven linked stories and a final, apparently unconnected one. The first, ‘Heirs’, is the strangest of all (until the last one). Since his wife left him, Arieh Zelnik has retreated to his mother’s house, where he spends his days making model aeroplanes and feeling guilty about waiting for her to disappear too. One day a stranger arrives who seems eerily familiar, and who suggests that they put Arieh’s mother into a home and replace her house with a health farm. Ignoring Arieh’s protests, the stranger enters the house, then the old lady’s room. He kisses her and climbs into bed beside her; Arieh undresses, and climbs in on the other side.

Even in an allegory such an ending would be shocking. But ‘Heirs’ doesn’t feel like an allegory. The portrait of the appalling stranger – a previously fat man who never stops talking, who gets everyone’s name wrong, yet still worms his way in – is as funny and

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