A Note Before the Interview
The Chinese version of The Same Sea , translated by Huilan who is a well known Chinese poet and translator, was published in June, 2012 by Chinese Translation press.
The author, Amos OZ is a famous Israel author who was born in Jerusalem in 1939, has published 18 books and hundreds of essays in Israeli and in international magazines and newspapers. Oz's works have been translated into 41languages in over 35 countries. He has received many honors and awards, among them the National Order of the Legion of Honour of France, the Goethe Prize , the Prince of Asturias Award , the Heinrich Heine Prize and the Israel Prize .
He writes in Hebrew and has been visiting China for times. The Same Sea is his most important work of literature. Almost of his works now, have been translated into Chinese.
Interviewing Amos Oz about The Same Sea by Elizabeth Farnsworth
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: In the context of everything that has happened since you started writing this new novel, why did you write a novel that, to somebody who reads it only once and superficially, might feel it's an unpolitical novel? It's about a very small little slice of life, very private, haunted in its own way by everything that has happened to Israel, but nonetheless not grappling with the political issues of the time?
AMOS OZ: The Same Sea is the crux of the matter. It's a novel about, precisely about every day life, about normalcy in times of madness, or to paraphrase Garcia Marquez, it's about love in times of cholera. Israel of the coastal plain, where eight out of ten Israeli Jews live far removed from the occupied territories, from the fiery Jerusalem, from the religious and nationalistic conflicts, is unknown to the outside world, almost unknown to itself. But The Same Sea is set precisely in this Israel, which never makes it to the news headlines anywhere. It is a novel about everyday people far removed from fundamentalism, fanaticism nationalism, or militancy of any sort.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: An accountant who lost his wife, his son who's a little lost.
AMOS OZ: Yes, a prodigal son, a bereaved father, a dead mother, a raving young lover woman...a fraud, film script; it has a solid plot, all right. One of the things I wanted to introduce in The Same Sea beyond transcending the conflict, is the fact that deep down below all our secrets are the same. The fact that somewhere beyond race and religion and ideology and all other great dividers, the insecure, timid, hoping, craving and trembling self is very often very close to the next insecure, timid, craving, hoping, fearing, terrified self. In a sense, all our secrets are the same. That's what I wanted to convey through The Same Sea in a playful way.
I wrote it, by the way -- and this what I am going to say now may have a sort of meta-political significance. It is a novel that erases, deliberately, every boundary. It erases the line between prose and poetry. It erases the line between storytelling, fiction and confession, because much of it is very personal, extremely autobiographical, directly without any disguise.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You appear in it?
AMOS OZ: I appear in it. It erases the line between literature and music because this book aspires to sing and dance, not just to tell a story. It is meant a work of music no less than it is a work of literature. And it erases the line between the living and the dead. You have Nadia, the dead mother, who is … alive and active. It even erases the line between here and there. The prodigal son takes a prostitute to bed with him in Nepal somewhere. The father in Israel, thousands of miles away, gives him a thundering Old Testamental dressing down in real-time and the dead mother defends him from the father. Of course, she is dead, but since when is being dead a problem for the Jewish mother defending their boy?
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: (Laughs)
AMOS OZ: So it's about erasing the lines.