Points of View
Known for his strong and complex political views, Avraham Yehoshua is an influential figure in Israel. Friendly Fire, however, takes a private, not a public, relationship as its starting point.
Daniela and Amotz are a middle-aged Israeli couple: respectable, wealthy, reasonably well-meaning and entirely unremarkable. While Amotz remains in Israel, Daniela visits her brother-in-law Yirmi in Tanzania to mourn the death of her sister, his late wife. The trip exposes her self-centredness as she imposes herself on Yirmi, who does not welcome reminders of Israel. The two strands of the novel interweave and effectively balance one another.
Daniela’s narrative portrayal of Africa is at times patronising; Amotz is presented as more thoughtful, striving to please his extended family.
Though politics is barely touched upon in the depiction of Amotz’s life, there are recurrent hints at the fragility of the family’s identity and members’ need to reaffirm it. The book’s title refers to the accidental death of Yirmi’s son, which permeates their lives. Yirmi, who was unalterably affected by the circumstances of his son’s death, tells Daniela: “For all their brainpower, Jews are incapable of grasping how others see them . . . real others, those who are not us and never will be.”
© New Statesman 2008