- Biography & Memoir
Neeman’s unique and captivating first-hand experience of growing up in the kibbutz will inform and entrance.
The kibbutz is one of the greatest stories in Israeli history. The kibbutzim are collective settlements in Israel which have been written about extensively and are praised as the only example in world history of entire communities attempting to live in total equality. Intended to be a socialist utopia by early pioneers, the kibbutz was a radical experiment in communal living, gender equality, economic egalitarianism, and the reorganisation of family life.
But in spite of its progressive ideals, there is a dark side to the kibbutz which is being told in the stories of the children raised in the communal houses - an institution which victimised its offspring for the sake of ideology.
In this spare and lucid memoir, Neeman - a child of the kibbutz in the 1960s - draws on the collective memory of the hundreds of thousands of people who grew up in kibbutzim at their height and who have intimately shared their memories with her.
We Were the Future is more than a compelling personal story: it is an unflinchingly honest examination of the perils of organising society and a new lens through which to see the history of Israel.
‘A charming, elegiac memoir of growing up on a kibbutz in Israel’s north’ Financial Times
‘Both beautifully lyric and devastatingly illuminating’ The Times of Israel
‘An eye-opening look at a fascinating era in Israeli history and what happens when a child is part of a socio-political experiment’ Kirkus Review
‘Extraordinarily affecting’ Jewish Ideas Daily
‘Neeman, an accomplished editor and novelist, writes about her kibbutz childhood with an imagistic, spare insightfulness. The result, translated by Sondra Silverston, is a rarely intimate portrait of the unusual collaborative communities on which Israel was founded’ The Jewish Daily Forward
‘Marvellous, precise and wise’ Haaretz
'Readers curious about life on a kibbutz in the 1960s will love this poetic autobiography. Readers who have never wondered about life on a kibbutz should read this book anyway, as they will be well rewarded . . . The history of the movement and her own kibbutz are deftly woven together, and readers come away with a sense of this not as merely an autobiography of an individual woman but as the story of the hopes, dreams, and struggles of an entire movement. A spare, and startling book' Christine Engel, Booklist
‘[Neeman] recalls these years in her own life and that of the kibbutz movement with tremendous lucidity, playing the historical off against the personal, with a prose style (nimbly captured in translation by Sondra Silverston) that is straightforward when needs be and almost dreamlike when it takes flight... She is very candid about the shortcomings of the kibbutz, and indeed, she writes not so much as if the kibbutz failed her but that in leaving, Neeman somehow failed the kibbutz’ Fathom Journal