Presenting "Matches", a novel by Alan Kaufman. Back Bay Books, Little, Brown & Co., New York & Boston, 2005. ISBN 031610664X .
Alan Kaufman's story "Something's coming for you" appeared in Offcourse Issue #5 in Fall 1999. He has also written a memoir, "Jew Boy" [Fromm/Farrar, Strauss, Giroux], and he is the co-editor of "The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry" and "The Outlaw Bible of American Literature."
"Matches" is Mr. Kaufman's first novel, largely autobiographical. It describes the life of Israeli soldiers on duty in the occupied territories (the Gaza strip.) The narrator is an American Jew who has dual American/Israeli citizenship, and has chosen to serve in the Israeli armed forces. He explains his reasons for this choice in the afterword to the novel, and also in reported conversations with fellow soldiers in the body of the novel. The title of the book, Matches, is explained:
"In the Israeli army, a unit commander reporting from the field will refer to the soldiers under his command as 'Matches'. The term, taken from Hannah Shenesh's poem 'Blessed is the Match' a hymn to valor is the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) code word for a soldier. Among the troops, it has come to mean someone who strikes, burns and dies."
"Matches" should be read for the disturbing questions it raises about the conflict and its effects on Israel, and for the even more disturbing questions it suggests about our own allegiances and values.
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