Once referred to by the New York Times as the “Israeli Faulkner,” A. B. Yehoshua’s fiction invites an assessment of Israel’s Jewish inheritance and the moral and political options that the country currently faces in the Middle East. The Retrospective Imagination of A. B. Yehoshua is an insightful overview of the fiction, nonfiction, and hundreds of critical responses to the work of Israel’s leading novelist.
Instead of an exhaustive chronological-biographical account of Yehoshua’s artistic growth, Yael Halevi-Wise calls for a systematic appreciation of the author’s major themes and compositional patterns. Specifically, she argues for reading Yehoshua’s novels as reflections on the “condition of Israel,” constructed multifocally to engage four intersecting levels of signification: psychological, sociological, historical, and historiosophic. Each of the book’s seven chapters employs a different interpretive method to showcase how Yehoshua’s constructions of character psychology, social relations, national history, and historiosophic allusions to traditional Jewish symbols manifest themselves across his novels. The book ends with a playful dialogue in the style of Yehoshua’s masterpiece, Mr. Mani, that interrogates his definition of Jewish identity.
Masterfully written, with full control of all the relevant materials, Halevi-Wise’s assessment of Yehoshua will appeal to students and scholars of modern Jewish literature and Jewish studies.