Be My Knife A Novel

David Grossman; Translated from the Hebrew by Vered Almog and Maya Gurantz




Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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A New York Times Notable Book

An awkward, neurotic seller of rare books writes a desperate letter to a beautiful stranger whom he sees at a class reunion. This simple, lonely attempt at seduction begins a love affair of words between Yair and Miriam, two married, middle-aged adults, dissatisfied with their lives, yearning for the connection that has always eluded them—and, eventually, reawakened to feelings that they thought had passed them by. Their correspondence unfolds into an exchange of their most naked confessions: of desire, childhood tragedies, joys, and humiliations.


Praise for Be My Knife

"A transformative work of art . . . As the love affair moves toward its denouement certain passages demand to be reread, as if one can't believe the pure, intuitive truth they contain."—The New York Times Book Review

"Be My Knife is an absorbing, lyrical, intricately woven look at love that delves deeply into the emotions of its characters and artfully challenges narrative conventions . . . Well-crafted . . . Grossman is a master . . . This is a rich, original, beautifully painful exposition of the basic human condition."—Catherine Newton, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Be My Knife may be the strangest saddest love story ever told . . . exciting . . . exquisite [and] piercingly sad."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"A brilliant concoction by an outstanding Israeli novelist."—The New York Times

"A tour de force . . . Difficult, provocative, disturbing . . . The novel raises serious questions. Can a person be truly honest with another, or is dishonesty intrinsic to the relations between men and women? Is honesty even possible, given the self-deception we all engage in? The book poses a Rashomon-like situation—each person seeing the story differently."—Miriam Sawyer, Rutherford (New Jersey) Public Library, MultiCultural Review

"A beautiful and searing book . . . Grossman's prose is bewitching . . . Be My Knife starts as a slow, lyrical work, then draws the reader into Yair and Miriam's compulsions. For Grossman, love is as an obsession, a consuming and searing mirage, where lovers reveal what is raw and painful."—The Denver Post

"Novelist and journalist David Grossman has claimed a place in the front ranks of contemporary Israeli writers with his lyrical yet penetrating explorations of his fellow countryman's psyches . . . Fans of Jeannette Winterson or Virginia Woolf may enjoy the novel's verbal artistry and its acute attention to the shifting psychological states of love."—Time Out New York

"A literary concoction for readers with strong stomachs and exquisite taste."—Chicago Tribune

"Be My Knife casts a spell . . . by fearlessly examining the precarious bonds between men and women and by exploring the power of the written word . . . Be My Knife cuts deep indeed."—The Commercial Appeal (Memphis)

"There is no joy comparable to reading a David Grossman novel. His brilliance shines on each page, and in a way that is not meant to show off but to deepen your own understanding of the world . . . This is a book that will resurrect parts of your consciousness you didn't know were dead."—Tikkun

"Grossman as usual gives us a literary workout, one that hones the sublime quality of words to perfection."—Molly Abramovitz, Hadassah

"Another original premise from Israeli novelist/journalist Grossman: after a shy, middle-aged man notices a beautiful stranger at a reunion, they launch a passionate affair of words."—Library Journal

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Be My Knife

April 3
You don't know me. When I write to you I don't know myself very well, either. I tried not to write, I did, I've tried for two days, but now I've broken down.
I saw you at the class...

Read the full excerpt