Eleven years old and on the cusp of puberty, Aron Kleinfeld is precocious, imaginative - the leader of his gang of friends. But his bar mitzvah is looming, his friends are all hitting puberty and Aron, terrified and revolted by what he sees around him, enters a state of arrested development. He stops growing, retreats from the world, and is imprisoned in the body of a child for three long years. While Israel inches towards the Six-Day War, and his friends cross the boundary between childhood and adolescence, Aron remains in his child's body, spying on the changes that adulthood wreaks as, like his hero Houdini, he struggles to escape the trap of growing up.
It's a rare achievement for the magic of childhood to be treated so weightily
When the Israeli writer David Grossman's See Under: Love was published...he was compared legitimately to Kafka, Grass, Márquez and Joyce....David Grossman's own intimate grammar will speak to anyone who was ever twelve
It is an achievement that is full of charm and courage
Like [Virginia] Woolf, Grossman is uncanny at reproducing an experience from the inside out...the writing reminds you of the great, solemn mystery of literature, what the poet Czeslaw Milosz calls 'the human possibility of being someone else
Mr. Grossman's balance between the poetic and the profane is perfect....[The Book of Intimate Grammar] is See Under: Love's stylistic twin: the beauty and intelligence of the writing are dazzling....It can be read at once, as a tale of magic realism, a parable about the damage left in the wake of the Holocaust, a psychological portrait of a child's descent into madness, and, finally, as a comical but searing indictment of the Jewish family
David Grossman won the 2017 Man Booker International Prize for his novel A Horse Walks into a Bar. He joins us to discuss comedy, memory, and the stories we tell ourselves as people and nations