Uncle Peretz Takes Off
Publication Date: August 19, 2004
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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.
About the AuthorYaakov Shabtai (1934-1981) is the author of novels, plays, short stories, and a children's book. He was awarded the 1986 Kenneth B. Smilen Literary Award, and in 1999 the Tel Aviv Municipality named a street after him in a new district of the city.
Gabriela Avigur-Rotem was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1946 and came to Israel in 1950. She holds a degree in Hebrew and English literature. She has taught literature at high school and directed writing workshops at Haifa and Ben Gurion Universities. She works as an editor at Haifa University Publishing House. Her novels include "Mozart Was Not a Jew", "Heatwave and Crazy Birds", and "Ancient Red".