Falling Out of Time
By David Grossman
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780385350136, 208pp.)
Publication Date: March 25, 2014
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Following his magisterial To the End of the Land, the universally acclaimed Israeli author brings us an incandescent fable of parental grief––concise, elemental, a powerfully distilled experience of understanding and acceptance, and of art’s triumph over death.
In Falling Out of Time, David Grossman has created a genre-defying drama––part play, part prose, pure poetry––to tell the story of bereaved parents setting out to reach their lost children. It begins in a small village, in a kitchen, where a man announces to his wife that he is leaving, embarking on a journey in search of their dead son. The man––called simply Walking Man––paces in ever-widening circles around the town. One after another, all manner of townsfolk fall into step with him (the Net-Mender, the Midwife, the Elderly Math Teacher, even the Duke), each enduring his or her own loss. The walkers raise questions of grief and bereavement: Can death be overcome by an intensity of speech or memory? Is it possible, even for a fleeting moment, to call to the dead and free them from their death? Grossman’s answer to such questions is a hymn to these characters, who ultimately find solace and hope in their communal act of breaching death’s hermetic separateness. For the reader, the solace is in their clamorous vitality, and in the gift of Grossman’s storytelling––a realm where loss is not merely an absence but a life force of its own.
David Grossman was born in Jerusalem, where he still lives. He is the best-selling author of many works of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature, which have been translated into thirty-six languages. His work has also appeared in The New Yorker. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the French Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the Buxtehuder Bulle in Germany, Rome’s Premio per la Pace e l’Azione Umanitaria, the Premio Ischia International Award for Journalism, Israel’s Emet Prize, and the 2010 Frankfurt Peace Prize.
Alan Cheuse reviews the odd little novel Falling Out of Time, by Israeli writer David Grossman. More at NPR.org
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“A strange and riveting book.” —The New York Times Book Review
“An almost unbearably personal work. . . . The monologues evoke both the raw declarations of Athenian tragedy and the homespun lamentations of Robert Frost’s narrative poem.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Spare and poetic.” —The New York Review of Books
“A richly emotional, mystical and philosophical tapestry . . . [Falling Out of Time] deserves recognition among the greatest works in the brave and indispensable tradition of art that pushes back against catastrophe.” —Jewish Daily Forward
“Slim in dimension but as solid as sculpted rock. . . . Although it grows from a private, incomparable ordeal, this noble fable speaks for all.” —The Independent (London)
“Part narrative poem, part play, part novel . . . [a] poignant study of bereavement and loss.” —Financial Times
“[Grossman is] the greatest Israeli writer of his generation. . . . Talmudic, polyphonic, yearning, [Falling Out of Time] comes from a place of pain and darkness and is acutely moving.” —The Daily Telegraph (London)
“The language of its composition makes it particular to Israel, but once translated [Falling Out of Time] becomes universal.” —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
“Grossman is perhaps Israel’s most important contemporary novelist. . . . [Falling Out of Time] resembles a play by Beckett or a Greek tragedy. . . . A haunting, affecting and even beautiful book.” —The Toronto Star
“It’s not a novel, but a mixture of poetry, prose and drama . . . as true and as powerful as CS Lewis’s great A Grief Observed.” —The Times (London)
“A book that needed to be written. . . . Poetic. . . . [A] triumph.” —The Observer (London)
“At once more universal and more personal than anything [Grossman] has written before.” —Sunday Times (London)
“Falling Out of Time is short, and clearly a deeply personal book, but its importance and impact ought not to be underestimated.” —The Guardian (London)
“A significant new departure in literature.” —Jewish Chronicle
“Sensual and uncompromising. . . . Written with such simplicity it appears to be speaking directly to the reader, Falling Out Of Time is at times Biblical in its imagery, at others weird and fantastical. . . . It’s a measure of Grossman’s clarity of thought and his theatrical timing that one reaches its end and feels, in some small way, glad to have been in his characters’ company however grim the road they travel.” —The Herald Scotland
“An impassioned exploration of existential questions about life and death. . . . The precision and sensory depth of Grossman’s language renders this unconventional work an unforgettable and magnificent document of suffering.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)