The Last Soldier

The Last Soldier has been compared by critics with anti-war works such as Catch-22, All Quiet on the Western Front, Johnny Got His Gun, Full Metal Jacket and The Deer Hunter.

Eliav Kadosh grew up in an unprivileged, peripheral community in Israel in the 1990s. After excelling at the academic screening exam, the principal of the Regional School invites Kadosh to study at the elitist high school. On his first day of tenth grade, the principal takes Kadosh under his charge, persuading him that just like the students from the region’s affluent towns, he too can be a pilot, a paratrooper or a fighter in the Israeli Special Forces. The exhilarated Kadosh commences his service with pilot training – the most prestigious and well regarded at the IDF – but he quickly resigns, despite passing the flight stage. He volunteers to the paratroopers and is sent to undertake basic training for the infantry at a remote military base. Kadosh’s service in the infantry forms the heart of the novel. During a period of nine months, he undergoes basic and advanced training, participates in a paratroopers’ course and is sent to the front in Lebanon.

In the second part of the novel, reality is mixed with illusion, leading up to the unexpected end.

This is a novel about the grinding mill of the military service in a country where war is a constant fact of life and how it draws in innocent youths who want to belong, chews them up and spits out the remains. It’s about the abuse on the way through a person’s transformation into a soldier. And about the friendships that are created in the army under its unrelenting pressure, and about how your background and place of origin continue to be dragged behind you and influence the treatment you receive. It’s about the trauma of Lebanon and about the capacity of literature to show us the internal movie another person plays in. And despite all this, the novel maintains a matter of fact tone and an ironic angle, and these enable us to move along the heartrending-funny-grotesque axis, which balances the difficult subject matter. Generally, the protagonists in Yinon’s novels who are beaten and bruised when they attempt to realize social and national expectations do not tend towards self-pity. And perhaps precisely because of this, they give rise to empathy in the reader’s heart.

“Yinon Nir’s novel tells the story of an Israeli protagonist’s transformations; and it does so impressively. Reading Yinon Nir’s surprising novel, The Last Soldier, I could not help but be reminded of The Deer Hunter, Michael Cimino’s marvelous film and perhaps the finest depiction of the horrors of the Vietnam War.[ …]This is a novel with ongoing and slowly increasing influence, which stays in your consciousness long after you finish reading..”

Aharon lapidot, Israel Today.

“The last soldier was inspired by novels like Johnny Got His Gun, All Quiet on the Western front and The Good Soldier Schweik.”

Ronen Tal, Yediot Aharonot.

“…yet through clever plot construction and reasoned, critical writing, he manages to innovate and present a fresh perspective on this trite topic.”

Ayelet Klein Cohen, NRG.

“The Last Soldier is a novel to be read in one breath.”

Shiri Tzuk, Blazer.

“Although it concerns almost exclusively the military service of a young man who narrates his story through a first-person perspective, its plot and style choices create an unexpected reading experience, and in a number of senses also a fundamental experience of its subject matter.”

Omri Herzog, Ha’aretz.

“Yinon Nir offers us a pathway to examining Israeli society through the military service which is so often identified with it. […]No matter how you look at it, it will tell you something you didn’t know, or will remind you of memories you find difficult to contend with, or will cause things from the past to resurface, or will frighten you rather seriously.”

Gill Mertens, Saloona Women Web Magazine.

“The Last Soldier is a gentle, sensitive but jolting novel. It was written with much humor and virulent cynicism [ …] I was overcome with laughter (alongside tears and compassion) in many parts of the book … In this sense it is reminiscent of Catch-22, a touching and strong novel, full of humor and at the same time a kick in the stomach.”

Gilad Nadler, Time of Books.

“Something drew me in the novel’s expression, in the rich and sensitive language, in the fascinating descriptions of the soldiers’ way of life, in their lives, their small pleasures, their loves, their criticism and their sometimes sarcastic humor. Quite quickly I was swept in by the adventures of Kadosh in the IDF, and I accompanied him in all the stages of induction, the course, the transition, and the ensuing pathway that he took.”

Dorit Baram, Saloona Women Web Magazine.

Rights sold: Israel [Modan Publishing House], [Ayeh Nir Publishers]

English Translation Sample Download

Genre: Fiction, Literary