In the last years of his life, the writer Amos Oz talked regularly with Shira Hadad, who worked closely with him as the editor of his final novel, Judas. These candid, uninhibited dialogues show a side of Oz that few ever saw. What Makes an Apple? presents the most revealing of these conversations in English for the first time, painting an illuminating and disarmingly intimate portrait of a towering literary figure.
In frank and open exchanges that are by turns buoyant, introspective, and argumentative, Oz explains what impels him to begin a story and shares his routines, habits, and challenges as a writer. He discusses the tectonic changes he experienced in his lifetime in relationships between women and men, and describes how his erotic coming of age shaped him not only as a man but also as an author. Oz reflects on his parents, his formative years on a kibbutz, and how he dealt with and learned from his critics, his students, and his fame. He talks about why there is more humor in his later books and gives his exceptional take on fear of death.
Resonating with Oz’s clear, honest, and humorous voice, What Makes an Apple? offers unique insights about Oz’s artistic and personal evolution, and enables readers to explore his work in new ways.
Amos Oz (1939–2018) was a world-renowned novelist, essayist, and short-story writer. His many books include A Tale of Love and Darkness, Scenes from Village Life, and How to Cure a Fanatic (Princeton). Shira Hadad is an acclaimed editor of contemporary Israeli fiction and a screenwriter. She edited works by such writers as Amos Oz and Zeruya Shalev, and created TV dramas for various networks. Jessica Cohen is the translator of Amos Oz’s Dear Zealots and of works by such writers as Etgar Keret, Ronit Matalon, and Nir Baram.
"Perspectives on life and literature from one of Israel’s most celebrated authors. . . . Oz lyrically addresses such topics as his motivations as a writer, writing process, views on sexuality, decades on a kibbutz, and the ways in which his writing changed from early successes to later works. . . . Memorable viewpoints guaranteed to evoke strong feelings."—Kirkus Reviews
"Among the most memorable commentary is on the writer’s craft. . . . For [Oz’s] fans. . . this works as a quick fix."—Publishers Weekly
"[A] wonderful little book."—Robert Siegel, Moment Magazine
“These revealing conversations between Amos Oz and Shira Hadad, who became friends when she edited his last novel, offer insight into the complex personality of a major literary figure. Their talks range over a wide variety of topics, from writing to sex to death, conveying a vivid sense of a man taking stock of his life and painfully aware of its approaching end.”—Robert Alter, author of Nabokov and the Real World
“This is such a beautiful book. Moving, elegiac, and masterfully edited, What Makes an Apple? will occupy a special place in Oz’s body of work as his final words on his own writing.”—Barbara E. Mann, author of The Object of Jewish Literature: A Material History
“Shira Hadad brings out a more relaxed and personal side of Oz than he ever revealed before. Here his vulnerability and humor are touching and delightful. Full of broader insights about life and art, and superbly translated by Jessica Cohen, this book feels like a final letter addressed to Oz’s readers.”—Yael Halevi-Wise, author of The Retrospective Imagination of A. B. Yehoshua