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In this deft, masterly book, Amos Oz turns his attention away from his family—the subject of the internationally acclaimed A Tale of Love and Darkness—and toward his profession, writing. The plot: eight hours in the life of an author. The setting: Tel Aviv, a stifling, hot night. A literary celebrity is giving a reading from his new book. And as his attention wanders, he begins to invent lives for the strangers he sees around him: here, a self-styled cultural guru, Yakir Bar-Orian Zhitomirski; there, a love-starved professional reader, Rochele Reznik; to say nothing of Ricky the waitress, the real object of his desire. One life story builds on another, and the author finds himself unexpectedly involved with his creations . . .

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