Uri Grossman’s death, and his father’s empathy

Uri Grossman, son of Israeli author and peace activist David Grossman, was killed while fighting in southern Lebanon on Saturday. Todd Hasak-Lowy (The Task of this Translator) writes beautifully about David Grossman and his work today at Informed Comment.

Though this isn’t the type of thing that one can easily say when writing scholarship, or even when working with a group of undergrads, I think Grossman is simply the most empathetic writer I’ve ever read. There is an acute sensitivity in his writing, a sensitivity for characters that clearly are not stand-ins for himself, which amazes and invigorates and even overwhelms me as a reader. This empathy runs across Grossman’s work in an astounding range of genres. It is painfully evident in his 1991 novel, The Book of Intimate Grammar, where he carefully explores the tormented inner world of a similarly sensitive young adolescent who ultimately cannot survive in the aggressive and almost brutal world of 1960s Israel. In his numerous books for children, a more optimistic Grossman again and again demonstrates his profound awareness of what it means to live as a child with a limited understanding of the adult world.

Grossman participated in PEN’s World Voices Faith and Reason Event earlier this year. You can listen to what he said here.


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