The Black Box

This 1993 book is excellent. It is written by Amos Oz, one of Israel’s greatest writers. It is not only a well-told attention-holding story told by means of letters that one writes to another and the answers, it is a work of art, surely to be considered a classic in the future. The title is taken from a plane crash, after which investigators listen to conversations in a black box to determine what occurred and why it did so.

The book focuses on a divorced husband and wife, their strange unsettled son, the husband’s unscrupulous lawyer, the ex-wife’s current rather strange and over-zealous husband, along with a couple of more people, all of whom wrote articulate revealing letters.

The couple divorced seven years ago. Seemingly the cause of the divorce was the multiple times that the wife committed adultery against her husband whom she married when he was a virgin and who never betrayed her. During the divorce proceedings, neither the wife nor husband inexplicably wanted to go through a test to determine if her son was also the son of her then husband. The husband’s lawyer, who manipulated events so that the ex-husband took the wealth that belonged to the ex-husband’s father and gave it to him, also made sure that the ex-wife received none of this money.

After the divorce, the ex-wife married a short, dark-skinned, ultra-religious Orthodox Jew whose primary desire in life is to gather money to buy Arab-held land. Neither he nor his current wife have money, but the ex-husband has the fortune from his father.

We learn during the reading of the letters about the mind-set of the ex-wife and ex-husband, a well-known writer, why they divorced, why neither wanted a paternity test, why after seven years the ex-wife writes to her ex-husband and what does she want and why she keeps writing, what feelings each has for the other, what the son is doing, how the current husband tries to manipulate the son and ex-husband, and much more. There are also ideas not exactly related to the overall plot, such as purchasing Arab land.

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