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Book Tips - Shmuel Agnon

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1966 was awarded to Shmuel Agnon "for his profoundly characteristic narrative art with motifs from the life of the Jewish people".

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A Guest for the Night (Oreah natah la-lun)

Shmuel Yosef and Leonie Nelly Sachs shared the 1966 Nobel Prize in Literature for a literary production which records Israel's vicissitudes and passes on its message to the peoples of the world. The writings of Shmuel Agnon are steeped in the influences that range from influences by men and women, and by birds and beasts. His frequent borrowing from the Hassidic tales lends an authentic signature of religious significance to his works. His writings reflect the life of the Jews in Galicia, Poland, Lithuania, Germany and Israel. I like and recommend his "A Guest For the Night" - which portrays his personal experiences of travel over Germany and Poland. Agnon is highly religious but in his writings; he is not a preacher- only a painter.
/Dilbag Firdausi, India

Only Yesterday (Temol shilshom)

It is a very original narrative that touches concerns of everyday life with the imagination of magical realism. It is a beautiful novel!
/Elisa, Germany

Shira (Shirah)

Masterful writing, plot and environment and psychological handling of characters.
/Rivka Armoni, Israel

The Bridal Canopy (Hakhnasath Kallah)

The most beloved book from my most beloved author, Agnon. It beautifully describes the love and belief of a father, in a search, forced on him by his Rabbi, to find a match to his daughters, in eastern Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, a period with significance and changes for the Jewish communities worldwide. Poetic and rich language.
/Benny, Israel

Twenty-One Stories

This is an English-translated compilation of stories by Agnon reaching from his classic 'Agunot' (from which the twenty-year-old Shmuel Czaczkes chose his pseudonym) to the beautiful 'First Kiss', written in his late seventies. Agnon's stories are essentially Jewish stories, drawing from the Torah and, most especially, the Talmudic heritage for their style and inspirations. But they are not dry parables, I assure you. They are spiritual, yes, but also mystical with an acknowledged bent towards Kafka, particularly in the stories of the '30s and '40s. For a Jew, these stories have made me feel more in touch with my ethnic heritage as no other fiction has. For one who is not a Jew, though, they are as enjoyable as any story by Kafka, or Isaac Babel ... or Samuel Beckett for that matter. Agnon is a writer to be very much enjoyed, by Jew and Gentile alike, and his short fiction is a great introduction to this great author.
/Marc-David Jacobs, United States
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