Oleg Kusov might not be on the radar screen as prominently as David Grossman, Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua when it comes to Israeli writers, but the Russian writer has had a huge following among immigrant Russian Israelis. While he laments the advent of the internet in threatening a livelihood for writers and the decline of Russian-speaking readers for his books in Israel, he has a following.
He is a prolific writer with over 17 volumes, most notably, his lives of Great People series, featuring Moses, King David and King Solomon and Salah ha Din, who managed to put down the Crusades. Kusov, who grew up in Azerbaijan, said that modern radical Islam can’t be confused with the nobility and values of the Muslim past and that the Muslims he grew up with had a principle not to harm “the people of the book.” He says, “The atrocities we see, the beheadings are not Islam. Islam is Salah ha Din.”
Kusov has other books with titles he disagrees with, but the choice of titles were made by publishers. His “Secrets of Jewish Sex” was expanded and republished into “Jews and Sex.” He intended it to be “Jews and Love, ” but love apparently does not sell as well as sex. He laments that a book on keeping kosher was translated as “Jewish Dietology” and “Jewish Cooking” was originally, “In the Kitchen of my Grandmother.” He has written about a wide array of topics, including intelligence in Israel, but when asked what his favorite of his books his, Kusov replies, “I haven’t written it yet.”