The Red Buddha

hezaf has a wonderful sense of space and of Man’s place in it. His    landscapes are full of power and interest. Until I read “The Red Buddha” by Tsur Shezaf, I was not familiar with the word “cairn.” He uses it in the plural form; “cairns.” I opened my dictionary and found “(Archeology) an ancient mound of stones heaped for various ritual or other purposes.” In Shezaf’s moving novella, they are mysteriously           arranged in straight lines. First in the Negev, then in the Himalayas. At the end of the story, in the abyss between the highest step and the mountain peak opposite, three marvelous figures combine before the eyes of the narrator: the Red Buddha, the Yeti (the snowman whose giant footsteps and whose pair of tame leopards accompanied the expedition and showed it the way, and Ling, the Nepalese monk who led them to the site of the staircase, and vanished. It is difficult to breath in the thin mountain air, and easy to crash when describing a mystical experience, but Shezaf, who creates a sufficiently broad and complex setting for it, succeeds in making it the most powerful and convincing moment in the story.


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