Amos Oz, 74 Years Old and a National Treasure, Still Dreams of Life on the Kibbutz

In a wide-ranging conversation, Israel’s greatest novelist talks about working the land, making art, and Natalie Portman

There’s no other living Israeli author who is as well known around the world as Amos Oz. Inside Israel, he’s one of the country’s most respected cultural figures. Oz has lived a tumultuous life. When he was 10 years old, he witnessed the founding of the Jewish state. When he was 12 years old, his mother committed suicide. When he was 15, he joined a kibbutz and changed his last name to Oz, Hebrew for “strength.” He eventually left the kibbutz for the desert because of his son’s asthma, but as he tells Vox Tablet contributor Daniel Estrin, he still dreams of kibbutz life at least once a week. In his newest short story collection, Between Friends, he revisits the early years of the kibbutz, when the collective farms were still a wild Israeli ideological experiment. Estrin sat with Amos Oz in his home in Tel Aviv for a far-ranging discussion about the new book, his love of Hebrew, his predictions for Israel’s future, and a bit of celebrity gossip. [Running time: 27:45.]