Mori Sa'id, by Hayim Hazaz
We hope for what we do not have. And those who, starved for it, greedily hope for what is highest, find themselves out of touch and inept in the world as it is. They neglect the ills that they could indeed remedy, they are spiteful toward the goods that do exist, and they feed on their dreams like hashish. Yet how can they abandon their impossible idea? In comparison to it, what else is worth living for? They end up dying at the Wailing Wall. It is these dilemmas of Exile that Hayim Hazaz lusts to deal with, especially when the exiles are physically living in Jerusalem, which makes it all the more piquant. And in his novel Mori Sa’id, just translated into awkwardly graceful English by Ben Halpern, Hazaz contrives to catch these dilemmas in the very structure and texture of the narrative, so that by concentrating not so much on what he tells but on the form of the telling, we experience what it is to be a Yemenite, a Jew, or a man.
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