- Excerpted in Fantom Slobode ("Phantom of Freedom", Dubrovnik and Zagreb), issue 1-2/2004, translated by Slobodan Svrzo
From the catalogue:
"Spare and haunting, whimsical and contemplative snapshot-stories that reveal an unfamiliar Israel by remapping its blind spots. Part reportage, part parable, part excavation of history, this jigsaw puzzle of compelling tales constitutes an exile¹s nostalgic tour into Israel's culture of denial.
"Picnic Grounds is a novel built from the layers of overlapping lives and stories, much like the villages and cities of modern-day Israel are constructed from a culture superimposed over the palimpsests of history. Landscape, language, and the manufacture of knowledge are deconstructed by a unique new voice, writing in a language that is not quite English, from a life that is anything but post-colonial."
Oz Shelach was born in West Jerusalem in 1968, has been a journalist and editor for Israeli radio and magazines, and runs a small web site: oznik.com.
From the back cover
“There's something so captivating about these ‘fragments,’ about their beguiling simplicity, about the things they so eloquently withhold, something so pure and unpretentiously fresh. Oz Shelach is probably the most relentlessly restrained cartographer of the current Israeli scene, and this novel is the most intricately subtle commentary on that unsettled scene that I've read in years. A stunning literary achievement.”
— Anton Shammas, author of Arabesques
"Oz Shelach has managed, by pinpointing minutes, to evoke hours, days, years, a whole history. The very pauses in his extraordinary novel are filled with more width of understanding, more depth of compassion than would be possible in a book many times its length.”
— David Plante, author of The Age of Terror
"Taking responsibility for the destruction of Palestine is a pill still far too bitter for most Israelis to swallow. Oz Shelach takes us on an eerie journey through the archaeology of complicity and denial. Deeply personal, Picnic Grounds is also a profoundly political document that forces us to confront, as James Baldwin put it, ‘the price of the ticket,’ the heavy debt a state can exact from its people.”
— Ammiel Alcalay, author of After Jews and Arabs
Cover Image: Detail from "Partition Line" by David Goss
Flyleaf Image: Detail from "Sunflower Seeds" by David Goss
Cover Design by Yolanda de Montijo
Book Design by Elaine Katzenberger
Typography by Harvest Graphics