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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction / poetry


The Same Sea

Amos Oz

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase The Same Sea

Title: The Same Sea
Author: Amos Oz
Genre: Novel
Written: 1999 (Eng. 2001)
Length: 201 pages
Original in: Hebrew
Availability: The Same Sea - US
The Same Sea - UK
The Same Sea - Canada
The Same Sea - India
Seule la mer - France
Allein das Meer - Deutschland
Lo stesso mare - Italia
El mismo mar - España
  • Hebrew title: אותו הים
  • Translated by Nicholas de Lange "in collaboration with the author"

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Our Assessment:

A : simple, surprisingly effective

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ A 28/12/2002 .
The Guardian A+ 3/3/2002 Nina Caplan
London Review of Books . 20/9/2001 Yitzhak Laor
The NY Times Book Rev. . 28/10/2001 William Hoffman
The Observer . 18/2/2001 Tim Adams
The Spectator . 17/2/2001 Miranda France
TLS . 9/2/2001 Claudia Pugh-Thomas
Die Welt A+ 12/10/2002 Hannes Stein
World Lit. Today . Summer/2001 Eric Sterling

  Review Consensus:

  Very impressed

  From the Reviews:
  • "Es ist mit der Gattungsbezeichnung "Roman" nur unzureichend bezeichnet und sprengt diese Form(...) Nicht immer ist das völlig geglückt, und die doppelte Übersetzung -- Grundlage für die deutsche Fassung ist eine englische, die nach dem hebräischen Original entstanden ist -- mag daran eine Mitschuld tragen. Doch insgesamt ist Oz mit seinem weitgespannten Epos über Totendienst und Lebensgier, über Flucht und Beharren, über Planlosigkeit und Zielstrebigkeit ein großer Wurf gelungen." - Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Like a latter-day Israeli Orpheus, Oz's bewitching song leads us into the underworld and returns us from the shadows laden with loss yet enriched, even enlightened. An extraordinary book." - Nina Caplan, The Guardian

  • "I tried reading sections at random. That did not help. Although I suspected that this was not simply another postmodern exercise, nevertheless I found myself picking up the book, getting infuriated and slamming it down. Then, one day, just as I was about to give up, everything came into focus. The book unfolded itself in one sitting, making me laugh and weep and sometimes shiver with delight at its surprising beauty." - William Hoffman, The New York Times Book Review

  • "In a wonderful, lucid, poetic account of intersecting lives, this sense of quiet sometimes seems almost environmental. (...) In the pace of Oz's voice, in his control of the minute silences of line endings, he hints at hopes unfulfilled, truths half realised and compromises made, the stuff of real life. This is a political book only in the very broadest sense, but all the more profound for that." - Tim Adams, The Observer

  • "Never has the author's writing been more controlled and polished. (...) Action and emotions are muted, and there is no acceleration towards a revealing climax. Rather, what is offered is a vision of personal peace against a backdrop of national disquiet. The Same Sea is full of deft observation and wry humour. Although it does not have the force of Amos Oz's previous works, it is an eloquent and thoughtful exposition, of human nature, the power of words and the stories they tell." - Claudia Pugh-Thomas, Times Literary Supplement

  • "Es ist kein Kitsch. Es ist großartig. (...) Amos Oz gelingt hier etwas Seltenes, sehr Kostbares: Er bringt die Traurigkeit zum Schweben, er entzieht ihr mittels Sprache die Schwerkraft, und so verwandelt sie sich in pures Glück. Ganz nebenbei ist Allein das Meer auch ein kühnes literarisches Experiment." - Hannes Stein, Die Welt

  • "Oz's book paints an outstanding portrait of these self-centered and troubled characters. Only Albert and the Author/Narrator seem to express any altruistic feelings about the other characters. One point worth noting is that Oz changes perspective rapidly, sometimes confusing readers by using pronouns without clear referents -- the result of which is that occasionally characters reveal important feelings, yet it is initially unclear who is speaking. Nonetheless, Oz has created several memorable and intriguing characters." - Eric Sterling, World Literature Today

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Same Sea is a novel in verse -- though quite a bit of the poetry is presumably lost in translation. Nevertheless, the presentation -- brief chapters of varying length (and form), each a 'poem' in and of itself but, as different threads of one story, all connected -- is very effective, and makes for an impressive whole.
       The story is fairly simple. The central character is Albert Danon, a recently widowed accountant. His son, Enrico (called 'Rico') is travelling abroad -- in the Himalayas when the book begins, then making his way through South-East Asia -- reluctant to return to Israel. Rico's girlfriend, Dita, gets ripped-off by a film producer (she's written a movie script) and turns to Albert for help -- and moves in with him. Albert fixes things, and the movie producer turns out not to be such a bad guy after all. Albert still misses his wife terribly. Dita's presence in the household is welcome but also causes him some inner turmoil -- and then there's the other woman in his life, Bettine, who feels more strongly for him than he does for her.
       Even the narrator pops up:

The fictional Narrator puts the cap back on his pen and pushes away the
writing pad. He is tired. And his back aches. He asks himself how on earth
he came to write such a story. Bulgarian, Bat Yam, written in verse
and even, here and there, in rhyme.
       It's all fairly simple, the short episodes moving back and forth among the characters, looking towards the past, present, and future. Yet for all that --or because of all that, because of the glimpses rather than detailed, continuous narrative, and the somewhat lighter touch of poetic rather than prose renderings -- it is a completely gripping tale, these lives and what happens to them all of great interest. In true-life form, the story meanders back and forth, among the characters and in time, the everyday and the exceptional easily mixed, occasionally confused, yet with Oz never trying to explain too much.
       The Same Sea seems almost unambitious, and yet in these small, intertwined fates and in this presentation is a more powerful and affecting work than many far longer novels. Very impressive, highly recommended.

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The Same Sea: Reviews: Amos Oz:
  • The complete review's Amos Oz page
Other books by Amos Oz under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Israeli author Amos Oz (עמוס עוז) was born in 1939.

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© 2005-2013 the complete review

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