The Yellow Wind

“One morning, soldiers came to the house and notified her that she had fifteen minutes to get all her belongings and her daughters out of the house, after which the house would be leveled. Sometimes, when I hear about the destruction of houses in the West Bank, I wonder what I would remove from my house during that quarter hour – the basic necessities, I suppose; bed linens and cooking utensils. But what about the photograph albums? And my manuscript? And books? And old letters? How much can you get out in a frenzied fifteen minutes?”

In 1987, Israeli novelist David Grossman spent three months on the West Bank, journeying to Palestinian camps and Jewish settlements, talking to university students, army reservists, villagers, prosecutors, everyday people, ordinary people living divided, exiled lives. As he explains:

“I wanted to meet the people who are themselves the real players in the drama, those who pay first the price of their actions and failures, courage, cowardliness, corruption, nobility. I quickly understood that we all pay the price, but not all of us know it.”

The ‘Yellow Wind’ refers to “the wind that will come from the gate of Hell (from the gates of Paradise comes only a pleasant, cool wind) – rih asfar, it is called by the local Arabs, a hot and terrible east wind which comes once in a few generations, sets the world afire, and people seek shelter from its heat in the caves and caverns, but even there it finds those it seeks, those who have performed cruel and unjust deeds, and there, in the cracks in the boulders, it exterminates them, one by one”.

It is an emotional, painful read and as with Grossman’s fiction (at least with To The End of the Land, the only other of his works I’ve read) well written.



  1. I don’t think I’ve read a David Grossman novel before and this book seems interesting. I like the explanation of the name.
    I’ve nominated you for the “7X7 Link Award”, it’s a fun meme, I hope you’ll participate!


  2. I find myself wanting to know how many pages this novel is (not literally, please don’t go check for me); it just sounds like it’s one that would be extremely demanding, the sort of book that I would dread returning to. And, yet, you already know how amazed I was by the interview that we both listened to, so I’m not saying that I wouldn’t read it, either; after all, sometimes those are the best reading experiences, right?


    1. For some reason I was reading similar-ish books one after another – The Warmth of Other Suns, A Human Being Died that Night, The Yellow wind. So I didn’t have as hard a time with this book as I did with A Human Being Died that Night. Perhaps because it was sort of a collection of articles featuring a variety of voices, but with A Human Being and its focus on the man known as ‘Prime Evil’ and the emotional journey that the author has with him. So while my stomach turned at many pages – at all three of these books – and I had to put them down numerous times, they were indeed great reading experiences, books that I will not forget.


Comments are closed.