At the beginning of Aharon Appelfeld’s new novel, “All Whom I Have Loved,” 9-year-old Paul Rosenfeld is on summer vacation with his mother, enjoying what are perhaps his last moments of undiluted happiness. He remembers, “Once she put some squares of halva-covered chocolate on her palm and said, ‘Take it my love, it’s tasty.’” That night, the nearby town celebrates a Christian festival with a mass slaughter of pigs and cattle, and Paul dreams of a sky filled with blood. The entire novel is in that juxtaposition: small moments of sweetness and light collected under the glare of oncoming horror.
When it comes to literature about terrorism, the world is catching up with Israel. Since September 11, 2001, novels like “Saturday” by best-selling British author Ian McEwan, and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by young American writer Jonathan Safran Foer, have attempted to cope with a kind of nihilistic violence new to the West, but neither author managed to get beyond his initial shock at people trying to blow us up. A.B. Yehoshua’s latest novel, “A Woman in Jerusalem,” is thick with a kind of weariness about the whole business, no doubt the product of having lived with the reality of terrorism for half a century.
The Nimrod Flip-out By Etgar Keret Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 176 pages, $12. * * *|Etgar Keret’s fame in Israel is as unlikely as one of his own stories: A young writer of ultrashort, ultramodern fictions produces four straight best-selling collections. The stories in his collections go on to be translated into 16 languages and turned