Signatures of Struggle: The Figuration of Collectivity in Israeli Fiction
(SUNY Press, 2018) offers a new understanding on Israeli literature and literary history. Using Marxist theorization of the relation between literary form and social form, Oded Nir
goes beyond the dominant interpretive horizon of Israeli literary criticism, that focuses on the relation of literature to national ideology. Instead, Nir demonstrates how the engagement with national ideology in Israeli literature probes the social and economic contradictions internal to Israeli society and its social order. Focusing on moments of transformation, Nir argues that the demise of realism in the late 1950s was the result of the failure, rather than the success, of the emancipatory project of Zionist pioneers. Next, Nir shows how the postmodern turn in the 1980s expressed a crisis of social and historical imagination that began with the proletarianization of Palestinians by Israeli capitalism after the 1967 war. Finally, Nir demonstrates how contemporary Israeli fiction responds to the postmodern crisis by staging a creative search for time itself.
Yaron Peleg is the Kennedy-Leigh Reader in Modern Hebrew Studies at the University of Cambridge. His most recent book is
Directed by God: Jewishness in Contemporary Israeli Film and Television (University of Texas Press, 2016).