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Panther in the Basement

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From “a great and true voice of our time” (Washington Post Book World), comes this story of Proffy, a twelve-year-old living in Palestine in 1947. When Proffy befriends a member of the occupying British forces who shares his love of language and the Bible, he is accused of treason by his friends and learns the true nature of loyalty and betrayal. Translated by Nicholas de Lange.

From Publishers Weekly

Oct 15, 1997 – The narrator of Oz's tender and affecting 12th novel (after Don't Call it Night) is an Israeli looking back on the summer of 1947, a pivotal time in his and his country's existence. In that last summer of British rule, Proffy (short for Professor) was "twelve and a quarter," a typically precise statement from the boy he was, obsessed with words and their meanings, and the man he has become (perhaps Oz himself). The word that is most confusing to Proffy is "traitor," since he is accused by his friends of having betrayed their secret "underground" group (they have grandiose plans to drive out the English and fight the Arabs) and their country via his friendship with a British policeman. This man, Sgt. Dunlop, a kind and vulnerable loner who proclaims that his heart "is in thrall to the Chosen People," has asked Proffy to teach him modern Hebrew (he already speaks the language with biblical cadences). The conflicted Proffy is drawn to Dunlop, who is officially his enemy. Proffy is a fully rounded creation: a bookish adolescent with a vivid imagination, patriotic fervor and an incomplete understanding of events. His preoccupation with heroic fantasies and games and his burgeoning sexual curiosity are charming and funny. Yet his knowledge of the dangers in daily life--his parents both pursue clandestine activities against the British--makes him mature for his age. Though Oz is oddly clumsy and obvious with the "panther in the basement" image, in all other respects the novel delicately investigates its theme. The question of treachery has a timely resonance--Rabin's assassin called him a traitor to his country--and this moral conundrum deepens the narrative's implications. Yet this is a gentle, unassuming story, both serious and amusing, told with perfect pitch and a humane awareness of life's paradoxes and ironies. U.K. and translation rights: Deborah Owen.
Panther in the Basement
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Historical
  • Published: Oct 01, 1998
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
  • Print Length: 160 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.5 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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