Abstract: Wounded in body and spirit following his participation in Israel’s War of Independence, Yoram Kaniuk’s (1930–2013) protagonist of several key and stylistically sophisticated America-centered novels escapes to the New World. There, seeking a haven for recuperation and finding his identity, he exhibits some of the unheroic qualities that are a manifestation of his upbringing, of the mythological and unsavory sabra, or are the mirror of the fragmented social circle of acquaintances he makes in New York. Seeking an identity, he attempts to own the New World, doing so by attempts at conquest—of women, financial stability, or climbing the ladder of social hierarchy. In terms of women, he fails at exhibiting a lasting commitment with any. He fails at maintaining a successful career, while the “aristocracy” with which he affiliates turns out to be flawed and decaying. So while he meets some of New York’s rich and famous, he finds no model whom to emulate among them. None of these avenues bring any succor to him emotionally, spiritually, or physically from the trauma of the war memories that continue to haunt him and as he continues to search for a place to call home. Realizing the futility of it all, the protagonist escapes to other realms, mostly by returning to Israel in the expectation of finding a modus vivendi there with his memories and the reality of the new society.
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies – Purdue University Press
Published: Oct 7, 2015
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