Zvi Luria has begun to lose his memory. At the beginning he only makes small mistakes, forgetting first names and taking home the wrong child from his grandson’s kindergarten, but he knows that things will only get worse.
He’s 73 and a retired road engineer. His neurologist hints at the path his illness might take and suggests ways of combatting it, with the help of his wife Dina.
Dina, a respected paediatrician, is keen for him to return to meaningful activity, and suggests he volunteers to work with his old colleagues at the Israel Roads Authority. This is how Luria finds himself at the Ramon Crater in the Negev desert planning a secret road for the army with the son of his former colleague. But there’s a mystery about a certain hill on the route of this road. Who are the people living there and why are they trapped? And should the hill be flattened and the family evicted, or should a tunnel beneath it be built?
With humour and great tenderness, A.B. Yehoshua depicts the love between Luria and his wife as they confront the challenges of his illness. Just when Luria’s sense of identity becomes more compromised, then does he find himself on this extraordinary adventure involving people even more vulnerable than himself, enabling a rich meditation on the entwined identities of Israeli Jews and Palestinians and on the nature of memory itself.
Yehoshua weaves a masterful story about a long and loving marriage, interlaced with biting social commentary and caustic humour.