Heroes of Our Time

The Historical-Political Context of Devorah Omer’s Novels

in Israel Studies Review
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  • 1 Tel Aviv University rimashh@gmail.com
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abstract

This article examines Devorah Omer’s first two historical children’s novels, Ben-Yehuda’s Eldest Son and Sarah, Heroine of NILI (both published in 1967), as a case study for the ideological role played by historical fiction for children and youth in 1960s Israel. A comparison of the novels with the historical sources on which Omer relied reveals how the selection of the figures of Sarah Aaronsohn and Itamar Ben-Avi allowed her to create a narrative that crossed the political divide while presenting the difficulties experienced by children and women in their encounters with the national myth. Omer’s novels thus play a dual role: they preserve the Zionist narrative and shape a collective memory consistent with the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state, while also raising issues that call into question the national narrative’s hegemonic status.

Contributor Notes

rima shikhmanter teaches children’s literature and culture at Tel Aviv University, the Open University, and Seminar Hakibbutzim College in Israel. Her areas of interest are Hebrew children’s literature, children’s periodicals, and the children’s book publishing market. Her publications include Paper Friend: Israeli Children’s Journalism in the First Decade of the State (2014, in Hebrew). Historical fiction for children and young adults in Israel is the focus of her current research.

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