David Grossman is the Israeli writer of the hour. Although a celebrated novelist, he is also a distinguished journalist who, over the last 30 years, has written steadily in newspapers and magazines in response to almost every social and political event of any size or significance that has taken place in his country. The difference between the story-telling Grossman and the essayistic Grossman is instructive. In 1987 Grossman wrote The Yellow Wind, a journalistic account of three months spent in the West Bank, where he looked hard at Palestinian life under the Israeli occupation. Until that time, he had lived all of his 33 years in Jerusalem. By his own admission, when he looked at an Arab he saw not a fellow creature; he saw only an Arab. Those three months in the West Bank radicalized him. When, upon its publication, I read the book, it reminded me of books that had been written by white, middle-class American kids who’d gone south in the ’60s to discover for themselves what it really meant to be black in America.
more from Vivian Gornick at Boston Review here.