Uncle Peretz Takes Off

Uncle Peretz Takes Off Cover

Uncle Peretz Takes Off

By Yaakov Shabtai

Overlook Press, Hardcover, 9781585673407, 239pp.

Publication Date: August 19, 2004

With the publication of his Past Continuous in 1983, Yaakov Shabtai assumed a place of eminence in the canon of modern Jewish literature. Alan Lelchuk, in the New York Times, acclaimed its portrait of contemporary Israeli society as "the most prodigious (and probably most realistic) in Hebrew fiction." In Uncle Peretz Takes Off, the first collection of Shabtai's short fiction in English, a magnificent gallery of comic and idiosyncratic characters give Tel Aviv of the 1940s an unpredictable frontier quality. Shabtai portrays a society of individualists and schemers in search of redemption: Uncle Shmuel tries to make his fortune as a poulterer; Uncle Pinek, a born swindler, ends his days as a refugee in Monaco fleeing his creditors; the uncontrollably ribald Tamara Bell, who poses naked for artists, causes adolescent boys in the neighborhood small, excruciating flickers of desire. With unparalleled lyricism and humanity, Shabtai's stories embody the comedy, energy, and tragedy of the early years of the Zionist enterprise.