Overlook Press brings back into print Yaakov Shabtai’s novel about three Tel Aviv friends and their families, loves, and quarrels. Though less known to Israeli fiction fans than more recent tales of Israeli secular alienation, Past Continuous (Zichron Devarim in the Hebrew) is widely regarded as a classic Israeli novel, and was made into a film by Amos Gitai. Set in the 1960s, the action of Past Continuous doesn’t unfold so much as it uncoils, spiraling around the lives of its protagonists – two of whose deaths are announced in the first sentence. Told with minimal dialogue and in the free-associative method reminiscent of Susan Sontag’s fiction, Past Continuous captures the tensions of modern Israeli identity – even though today the tone is more historical than contemporary. For fans of A.B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, et al, this new edition of Past Continuous is both essential background reading and a welcome addition to the library.
February 15, 2013
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