Cover image for Infiltration
Ḳenaz, Yehoshuʻa.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Hitganvut yeḥidim. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
South Royalton, Vt. : Zoland Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
593 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
"First published in Hebrew under the title 'Heart murmer' in 1986 by Am Oved, Tel Aviv"--T.p. verso.
Added Author:
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Set in the 1950s when Israel had only been a nation for a few years and its existence was under constant threat, Infiltration tells the story of one platoon of young Israeli conscripts - a group who represent their nation's ideals, hopes, struggles and deep internal divisions. Melabbes is determined to stay detached from military life; Avner is a romantic whose mother worked for the wealthy Jerusalemites'; Alon is a proud Kibbutznik; Miller a concentration camp survivor; Mickey is a famous soccer player. A dark tale of the military process of making men out of boys.'

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Distinguished Israeli novelist Kenaz ( Returning Lost Loves, 2001) follows a group of Israeli army recruits with physical disabilities through several weeks of basic training in the 1950s. Alon, raised on a kibbutz, is full of talk of the greater good, but he is undone by his own idealism. The womanizing Avner is constantly in trouble for breaking the rules. Famous soccer star Micky, still reeling from the discovery of a heart murmur that has ended his career, repeatedly trumpets the rights of the individual in the face of political cant. The narrator, Melabbes, tries to remain detached from the squabbles of his unit even as he relentlessly observes and records their every move. This steely political novel has won many major Israeli literary awards and assumes familiarity with Israel's class and racial stratifications, giving it a parochial flavor that will not be to the taste of every reader; however, the platoon effectively serves as a microcosm for the formation of a young country faced with uniting factions separated by ethnicity and religious fervor. --Joanne Wilkinson Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hailed as Kenaz's masterpiece when it was first published in 1986, this mammoth novel by one of Israel's leading novelists (The Way to the Cats; Musical Moment) is a powerful exploration of military life and Israeli society in microcosm. Set in 1955, a few years after the Israeli War of Independence, the novel follows recruits on the army's Training Base Four, a camp for those medically disqualified from ordinary service. United only by their weaknesses (" `Defective combat-worthiness! Medical Grade B!... We're going to get basic training for girls!' "), the soldiers are a mix of sabras, Arabs and European immigrants. Melabbes, the first-person narrator, is a socially awkward sabra who would rather observe than act. He becomes friends with Avner, a rash, gregarious romantic from a humble family who resents the rich, cliquish "Jerusalemites" on the base. Alon, a kibbutznik with a strong belief in collective responsibility, is disheartened by his instructors and struggles to live up to his ideals, gradually abandoning his dreams of being a military hero. The group's outcast is Ben-Hamo, an Israeli Arab, who is continuously ostracized, ridiculed and even beaten. The interactions of these and other characters reflect larger questions of weakness, loneliness, friendship, historical duty and the future of Israel. Kenaz builds his narrative out of countless conversations, meticulous descriptions of everyday life in 1950s Israel and searching observations of national dynamics. Though the novel may not have the moral weight of Solzhenitsyn's epics, it has their social sweep. Like the Soviet Union, Israel began as a daring social and political experiment, and Kenaz's exploration of its origins and nature is at once encyclopedic and tenderly human. (Sept.) Forecast: Readers left numb by the grim sameness of the news from Israel will find fresh insights and even hope in Kenaz's portrait of the country in its youth. This impressive novel should serve to introduce Kenaz to a wider audience in the U.S. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

One approaches a 600-page novel with both anticipation and dread. Sometimes it pays off, as with Charles Palliser's magisterial The Quincunx. Other times-well, you can guess where this is going. Kenaz's book doggedly follows a group of Israeli army conscripts, conveniently arranged as a societal/ recreational/vocational cross section, through basic training in the 1950s. Together, they discover and discuss (at length) ethics, sex, duty, unfair treatment, the rigors of service, and so on. Publicity for this work hails it as a multiple prize winner, an important book on an important topic by an important author. So noted. For most American audiences, however, the characters will prove stock, the dialog unconvincing (and often, unintentionally funny: witness, "perhaps he's a great poet and we just don't know it"), the writing bloated and self-indulgent. There's an irony here; the book is not uninteresting, but it's all but unreadable, sinking under its own weight. For libraries with extensive Judaica collections only.-Robert E. Brown, Minoa Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.