Two Warm, Generous and Encouraging Letters Amos Oz Sent Me

Just two weeks after ‘All the Rivers’ was published, I received a letter from the man who composed some of the most beautifully written books in Hebrew. ‘In your voice you echo your writers, as I myself echo my writers,' Oz told me

FILE Photo: Amos Oz in 2012.
Ilan Assayag

They say that a writer’s work is done in solitude. They say that when writing, one is only half of oneself. The rumor is true, but only seemingly so. This task, although it requires seclusion, separation from the world and turning inward, is never done in a vacuum.

In those long hours, even when the writer is completely alone in the room, he or she is not the only one closeted. Many voices, those of storytellers dear to one’s heart, and the spirit and intimate language of past creations within oneself, are all there at work.

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Amos Oz was one of the first readers of “All the Rivers.” In June 2014, only two weeks after the novel was published, I received a letter from him in the mail: two pages, written in small print. The hand that composed some of the most beautiful stories written in Hebrew, reached out to me, generous and encouraging, and patted my hand warmly. I answered him by email, with a great and heartfelt thank you. Did you notice the meeting of Hilmi and Liat in New York in my book alludes to the meeting between Hannah and Michael in Jerusalem in your book? And that trick, too, of the subjective and yet omnipotent point of view – did you notice that I stole that from you from “A Tale of Love and Darkness”? And even the bird, the bird from “The Same Sea,” flew to me and stood on the windowsill in Brooklyn.

“Of course I did,” he wrote me, among other things, in his response. “In your voice you echo your writers, as I myself echo my writers. It is good.”

Amos Oz, Israel’s literary giant, dies at 79