All Backs Were Turned

Marek Hlasko, Author, Tomasz Mirkowicz, Translator, Thompson Bradley, Designed by Cane Hill Press $8.95 (122p) ISBN 978-0-943433-07-3
Exposing human souls poisoned by self-hatred, this blowtorch of a novel gives us a trenchant appraisal of pre-1967 Israel, again demonstrating Hlasko's ( Killing the Second Dog ) empathy for society's desperate discards. The eminent Polish writer, who committed suicide at the age of 35 in 1969 during an 11-year self-exile, sets the book in the desert town of Elath, now a resort but in the early '60s a sweltering dumping ground for parolees and ne'er-do-wells. Here, ferrying a handful of hardy tourists around in a jeep, are Polish Holocaust survivor Israel Berg and native Israeli Dov Ben Dov. A disgraced officer who was a 1948 War hero, Dov mourns an estranged wife whose lover he murdered. Dov's younger brother, who bears the same name but is referred to as Little Dov, is a fisherman whose territory is being encroached upon by thugs spoiling for a fight; but parolee Dov resists Little Dov's entreaties for intervention. Israel is assailed by Holocaust survivors and native Israelis for his pacifism; Little Dov's wife lusts after Dov, and a visiting German woman tries to wrench Israel from Dov; Dov reviles his religious, quarrelsome father; and rich American Jewish tourists are resented and courted by their Israeli brethren. Although Hlasko bludgeons the reader with an ending that features castration and multiple murders, matchless and prescient is the author's vision of the tensions erupting in the Promised Land. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1991
Release date: 05/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 140 pages - 978-1-939931-12-2
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