A Tale of Love and Darkness

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A Tale of Love and Darkness (Hebrew: סיפור על אהבה וחושך‎) is an autobiographical novel by Israeli author Amos Oz, first published in Hebrew in 2002.

The book has been translated into 28 languages and over a million copies have been sold worldwide. In 2011, a bootleg Kurdish translation was found in a bookstore in northern Iraq. Oz was reportedly delighted.[1]

In March 2011, Oz sent imprisoned former Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti a copy of his book A Tale of Love and Darkness in Arabic translation with his personal dedication in Hebrew: “This story is our story, I hope you read it and understand us as we understand you, hoping to see you outside and in peace, yours, Amos Oz”.[2] The gesture was criticized by members of rightist political parties,[3] among them Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely.[4] Assaf Harofeh Hospital canceled Oz's invitation to give the keynote speech at an awards ceremony for outstanding physicians in the wake of this incident.[5]


Oz chronicles his childhood in Jerusalem at the end of the British Mandate for Palestine and the early years of the State of Israel, and his teenage years on Kibbutz Hulda. As a child, he crossed paths with prominent figures in Israeli society, among them Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Shaul Tchernichovsky and David Ben-Gurion. One of his teachers was the Israeli poet Zelda. Joseph Klausner was his great-uncle. Told in a non-linear fashion, Oz's story is interwoven with tales of his family's Eastern European roots. The family's name was Klausner. By changing the name to a Hebrew one, Oz rebelled against that European background while affirming loyalty to the land of his birth. In the book, Oz's father recalls how the walls in Europe were covered in graffiti saying “Jews, go to Palestine," but when he reached Palestine, the walls were scrawled with the words “Jews, get out of Palestine.”[6]

Film adaptation[edit]

A production company owned by Natalie Portman acquired the film rights to the book.[1] Portman began shooting the movie in February 2014 in Jerusalem. The film marks her directorial feature film debut; she is also playing the role of Oz's mother.[7]


Elias Khoury, a Palestinian-Israeli lawyer whose father Daoud was a victim in a suicide bombing of Zion Square and whose son George was shot to death by Palestinian militants who mistook him for a Jew (see George Khoury), paid to have the book translated into Arabic and distributed in Beirut and other Arab cities in order to promote better understanding of the Jewish people's narrative of national rebirth.[6]

Awards and honours[edit]


  1. ^ a b Blass, Ido (13 September 2011). "Israeli author Amos Oz, now in an Iraqi bookstore near you: 'A Tale of Love and Darkness,' published in English in 2004, has sold more than a million copies worldwide, and officially translated into 28 languages". Haaretz. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "Amos Oz calls for Barghouti's release in book dedication". Jerusalem Post. March 15, 2011. Retrieved March 28, 2011. 
  3. ^ Brut, Zvika (March 16, 2011). "Amos Oz sends book to jailed Barghouti". Ynet, Israel News. Retrieved March 28, 2011. 
  4. ^ Book of Esther: Jewish fate ever since, Tzipi Hotovely, Israel Today" 17/03/2011
  5. ^ Levy, Gideon (March 27, 2011). "Who is sick enough to censor Amos Oz?". Haaretz. Retrieved March 28, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Bronner, Ethan (6 March 2010). "Palestinian Sees Lesson Translating an Israeli’s Work". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Hanna, Beth (12 February 2014). "Natalie Portman Starts Shooting Feature Directing Debut 'A Tale of Love and Darkness' in Jerusalem UPDATED". Indiewire. Retrieved 24 April 2014.