Set in Jerusalem, Oz’s novel takes place in 1959, about 10 years after the creation of the state of Israel. Shmuel Asch, a graduate student, has lost direction in life when his girlfriend leaves him and he drops out of school for financial reasons. He accepts a position as companion to an elderly man in exchange for room and board. His sole responsibility is to converse with the intellectual Gerschom for five hours every evening. Like his predecessors, Shmuel becomes infatuated with Gerschom’s widowed daughter-in-law, the aloof and alluring Atalija.
As he begins to question the real role and character of Judas, he simultaneously struggles to uncover the dark history of the household he has joined. Questions about what it means to be considered a “traitor” link these two stories. Oz delves deeply into political, historical, and religious questions while telling this tale of one young man’s poignant discovery of love, self and growth.
“The story began on an afternoon the color of comets, with a girl dressed all in black. A sad girl. A girl with a hole in her heat, and darkness on the horizon.”
This is a story about Stella who is followed home from a visit to NASA by a black hole. Stella takes the black hole to her room, names him Larry (short for Singularity – “a place of infinite gravity at the heart of a black hole”), and learns how a black hole can take things away (scratchy weird handmade sweaters) as well as give back.
Although Stella tries to get Larry to erase some of her sadness, she discovers that she wants to hold onto her memories and share them with her brother and her mom and keep the sadness and the happiness together.