"From the Four Winds" by Haim Sabato, translated by Yaacob Dweck; 978-159-264-240-3; Pages: 160; $22.95; Publication Date: Feb. 1; Hardcover; Fiction; Published by The Toby Press.
Where does fiction stop and reality start? "From the Four Winds" by Haim Sabato is one of those unusual books which captivates the reader and enmeshes thought with action. A young boy moves to Israel from Egypt and this is his story.
Haim Sabato is a well recognized author in Israel and has written several other books which have been widely received as excellent works of literature. All of his books were written in Hebrew. Yaacob Dweck translated Haim's novel from Hebrew to English and the words flow effortlessly page after page.
Be prepared to learn about the different prayers which are described as a part of the daily life of the characters. As with any other orthodox Jew, prayers are the foundation of their life. This is not meant to say that you would be overburdened with religious fervor in the book. Rather, Sabato cleverly makes reference to the type of prayer being said at different times of the day or at special holidays.
One of the main characters, Farkash, a mysterious, unforgettable immigrant from Hungary, befriends young Haim, who has recently arrived with his family from Egypt. His interaction with the youngster and watchful eye as he progresses in his studies is the main focus of "From the Four Winds." What he teaches him is that life is about giving guidance to others in the pursuit of their lives. Gifts of learning and recognition when accomplishments are achieved seem to be the main strength of this book. Sabato's studies as a youngster are encouraged by his mother's desire for him to succeed. Very interesting is the fact that the author is a rabbi and main character Haim becomes one as well. What a great setting for the events of this story to take place in Israel in the 1950s.
During the telling of this story, there is never a word of regret, remorse or feeling that things could have been better. Farkash tells of his life as a baker's apprentice, and even when his life is at an end, he forgives those who had caused him to suffer.
This is one of several lessons to be gained from reading this book. Farkash guided Haim in his early years in his studies and charged him to do the same for his children.
This book is heartwarming and entertaining as the characters' interact. Highly recommended.
Week of Jan. 25
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Clark Isaacs is an accomplished book critic who is published in local newspapers and national book review lists. Visit Clark at http://clarkisaacs.ning.com.