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Picnic Grounds: A Novel in Fragments

Press, reviews and interviews, in order of appearance. Linked when available online

updated 29 Jun. 2004

" times airy and light, at others leaving behind the aftertaste of broken hearts."

Kirkus Reviews, Mar. 2003


World Press Review, 21 Mar. 2003

"While it criticizes Israel’s culture of denial Picnic Grounds is also a love poem of sorts, an affecting tribute to a land that leaves its stubborn imprint on those who live there. . . . an intriguing debut from a brave new voice in Israeli fiction."

Sarah Coleman, Planet Magazine

"An enticing little book, that is both luring and unsettling, but most of all helps one understand some of the major undercurrents informing modern day Israeli society and culture. It is a fascinating read."

Neve Gordon, Counterpunch, 19 Apr. 2003

"...rooted in Jewish and Arab history... a bizarre and spooky montage of the Israel-Palestine conflict. The deadpan grimness of [Shelach's] reportorial detachment invites favorable comparison to writers like Viktor Pelevin and Franz Kafka. An eloquent indictment."

Alexandra Yurkovsky, San Francisco Bay Guardian, 30 Apr. 2003

"The alternative catalogue of Israeliness. You will find it all here, from Mahne Yuda to The old men of Safed, set in very short texts that do not accumulate to a story."

Ariana Melamed, Yeidoth Aharonoth, 6 May 2003


KVNF FM (Paonia CO), 8 May 2003. listen in real audio

"Oz Shelach is a wonderful writer. Picnic Grounds is best read slowly, in little sips, not rushed, like a very bitter drink. . . . Reality is at once revealed to be a lie, and when the lie is exposed a painful truth is revealed."

Yitzhak Laor, Haaretz, 16 May 2003

"The author gets his message across with subtle calm. The stories are very short, but like a good chocolate, they leave a lingering taste on the palette."

adamsiverstein,, 3 Aug. 2003

"A spare and perfectly painful little book, Picnic Grounds sketches an Israel that you won’t see on the news."

Ben Ehrenreich, The Village Voice, 4 Aug. 2003

"We have gained an extremely talented novelist, but might have lost a wayward son."

Elaine Margolin, Hadassah Magazine, 11 Aug. 2003

"A generation consumed by anomie and self-contempt, expatriates in a landscape no longer their own."

Robert Rosenberg, Forward, 19 Aug. 2003


KGNU Fm (Boulder, CO), 20 Aug. 2003. play real audio format download mp3

". . . Kodak moments from a society with its guard down and its righteousness momentarily disabled."

Philip Herter, St. Petersburg Times, 04 Sep. 2003

Lead feature excerpt

Harper's Magazine September issue 2003

"...for all its apparent modesty, Shelach’s slip of a novel is as bitter, sad, and angry a work as any of the great epics of war. Like its title, Picnic Grounds seems gentle, but what emerges is a tragic portrait of historical violence and its erasure in the collective memory."

Erica Weitzman, Brooklyn Rail, Oct. 2003

"... the reality of the Middle East comes to life on the pages of Picnic Grounds through the words and actions of people that could easily be your own friends or family."

Paul Hoelscher, Playback St. Louis Pop Culture, 4 Mar 2004

"Picnic Grounds is a powerful, disturbing book that challenges readers to face up to the sometimes nasty business of nation building and its fallout."

Jon Papernick,, 25/31 Mar 2004