Amos Oz's autobiographical novel, "A Tale of Love and Darkness," has been translated into Arabic thanks to a contribution by the family of an Arab man killed in a terror attack in 2004.
George Khoury, an Israeli Arab student, was doing his evening run in Jerusalem's French Hill neighborhood when a terrorist, who took him for a Jew, shot and killed him. The Khoury family, also from Jerusalem, decided to contribute funding to translate Oz's book, in an effort to help the cause of coexistence.
Two other books of Oz's have been translated into Arabic. "My Michael," translated in the 1990s, received favorable reviews in Egypt. The other book, "Soumchi" was distributed in Jordan.
Oz's "Tale of Love and Darkness," published in Hebrew by Keter, was translated by Jamal Gnaim and is being published by Yedioth Books, which also published the book's Russian translation.
The translation was assisted by the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature. It is to be sold in the Israeli Arab sector and later in Egypt and other Arab countries as well.
A difficult translation
"As could be expected, it was difficult to translate the book into Arabic," said Gnaim, who was born in 1943 and is a native of the central Israeli Arab city of Baka al-Garbiyeh. "Its language is not easy and the world the author lives in is not so familiar to me. But somehow I tried to get into his head and I hope I did a good job," he added.
The novel presents the full Jewish-Zionist narrative.
"The subject is not foreign to me. I live in Israel and I know the Hebrew, Israeli and Zionist culture, and therefore I was not surprised. I read the book and loved it. I realized my task wasn't easy, but I tried to be true to the source - that is sacred to me."
Gnaim, who has a bachelor's degree in Hebrew language and Arabic language and literature from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was an educator for many years. He retired 12 years ago and studied and taught translation at Beit Berl College.
Gnaim said "A Tale of Love and Darkness" represents "Oz from the point of view of his language and associations, and Hebrew literature and Zionist thought, and it's important that others get to know this milieu."
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