David Grossman recounts life ‘at the edge,’ five years after son killed in Lebanon war
The release of a new book by celebrated author David Grossman is always an event, but his latest work, due out next month, is likely to command special attention, given his deep personal connection to the subject.
“Falling out of Time,” to be published by Hasifria Hahadasha, is a novel that explores the pain of parents who have lost their children. It will appear nearly five years after Grossman’s son, Uri, fell in action during the Second Lebanon War.
“Falling out of Time” tells the story of man who, after five years not talking about “that night,” gets up suddenly after dinner, says good-bye to his wife and makes his way “there” to find his dead son. One by one, other people join him, each of them the empty shell of a mother or father who has not made peace with their child’s death.
For years, none of them have been able to speak about their tragedy; it is as if they have been trapped by a decree against speaking, against remembering. Now, they are searching for their voices. The book is the story of their effort “to find words for it.”
The characters find themselves at the border, facing a wall that perhaps they themselves have erected, and only then they will be able to understand who they are, since “life is only lived to the fullest there, at the edge.”
Grossman handed the manuscript to his editor, Prof. Menahem Perry, only four weeks ago. “After I read it and was so moved that it took my breath away, I told Grossman that the book was ready for publication,” Perry said. “Grossman said he could have kept on writing it for years, but that the time had come for me to take it from him, and if I’d already taken it, it should be published immediately.”
“It was edited very gently,” added Perry, the editor-in-chief of Hasifria Hahadasha, “and during the two intensive weeks of proofing, Grossman kept sticking in new lines and pages. The manuscript was alive and breathing until the point where I told him that the book was [at the printer] and that was that.”
The book will be sold only in special sales for an unspecified time before it is released in bookstores. On June 1, Hasifria Hahadasha will start selling the book on its website, exclusively to members of its customer club. Starting June 15, the book will be sold at the publisher’s stands at the Hebrew Book Week fairs in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It will be published in English during the coming year.
Grossman doesn’t plan to do media interviews to promote the book.
“I understand and respect his decision,” said Perry. “An enormous amount of emotional energy was invested in the book, and talking about it, or doing an interview in which he will be asked about other things, will detract from the book’s carefully chosen words, which one simply has to read.”
Perry added that while Grossman had to “dive into the deepest realm of his private feelings” to write the book, it is not autobiographical. “Israel is far from the book, which takes place in Europe, in a place with a duke and a lake,” he said.