"Fiction and reality, words and images: the concept of “imagetext” (Mitchell) is specified in this book as an inflection of the photographic imagination, in its ambivalent relationship to the novel. In the literature of “the people of the book”, with its age-old struggle with imagery, this creative mode is especially relevant, innovative and creative. Reading images and seeing narrative: a most illuminating, sensory integration that Ofra Amihay conducts with mastery. This is the central task of the Humanities, and their unmissable contribution to cultural life."—Mieke Bal, ASCA, Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis
"This beautifully written study is brimming with extraordinary insights and deep scholarship illuminating the fascinating, often subversive nexus of image and language in modern Hebrew literature. Readers of Ronit Matalon, Michal Govrin, Yoel Hoffman, Ruth Almog, Anton Shammas, Sayed Kashua and others will surely rejoice in the brilliant new pathways that Ofra Amihay opens in this critically enthralling and multilayered book. Gracefully applying the revolutionary revelations of visual theorists (Barthes, Mitchell, Sontag, Agamben especially) to her endlessly thought-provoking literary case studies of the works of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis, The People of the Book and the Camera is a triumphantly observant, richly detailed and thoroughly invigorating study."—Ranen Omer-Sherman, University of Louisville
"A vital contribution to our understanding of the ongoing conversation between literature and the visual arts, this book is additionally an essential contribution to the study of modern Hebrew literature. Informed by postcolonial and media theory, this cogent and persuasive study is a new standard work for anyone who is interested in the role literature and the arts play in the fraught landscape of today’s Middle East."—Amir Eshel, Stanford University
"The author skillfully navigates photographic theory, Zionist discourse, Israeli literary history, and Jewish literary history. The result is a highly illuminating work."—Sheila E. Jelen, University of Kentucky
"In this original study of Israeli culture, Amihay lucidly unpacks complex works that interweave photographs, texts, and drawings. Her analyses propel Hebrew literature into dialogue with contemporary global immigrant literature and graphic narrative (W. G. Sebald, Teju Cole). Amihay makes a powerful claim for the political significance of photography in Hebrew writing, showing how word-image relations can offer critical interventions in Zionist-Israeli approaches to gender, race, memory, and trauma."—Maya Barzilai, The University of Michigan
Amihay offers a pioneering study of the unique nexus between literature and photography in the works of Hebrew authors. Exploring the use of photography—both as a textual element and through the inclusion of actual images— Amihay shows how the presence of visual elements in a textual work of fiction has a powerful subversive function. Contemporary Hebrew authors have turned to photography as a tool to disrupt narratives and give voice to marginalized sectors in Israel, including women, immigrants, Mizrahi Israelis, LGBTQ+ individuals, second-generation Holocaust survivors, and traumatized army veterans.
Amihay discusses standard novels alongside graphic novels, challenging the dominance of the written word in literature. In addition to providing a poetic analysis of imagetext pages, Amihay addresses the social and political issues authors are responding to, including gender roles, Zionism, the ethnic divide in Israel, and its Palestinian minority. In exploring these avant-garde novels and their authors, Amihay elevates their significance and calls for a more expansive definition of canonical Hebrew literature.
Ofra Amihay is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Shanghai Normal University. She holds a PhD from New York University and has taught at Lawrence University, Georgetown University, and UC Santa Barbara. In 2015 she curated the photography exhibition “Text and the City” at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Croatia. She is the co-editor of the volume The Future of Text and Image (Cambridge Scholars, 2012) and has published articles on comics and graphic novels, Hebrew literature, children's literature, and photography.
6 x 9, 304 pages, 16 color, 19 black and white illustrations