A.B. Yehoshua is one of Israel’s leading contemporary authors, and one of the most widely published Israeli writers. His works have been translated into 28 languages, and he is the recipient of the Bialik Prize, the Israel Prize for Literature, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
Yehoshua’s stories are deeply rooted in the landscape and culture of Israel, often holding a mirror to Israeli society, yet they are also universal in their scope, which contributes to their global appeal.
Photo courtesy of Yuma.
Avraham “Boolie” Yehoshua was born in Palestine in 1936, a fifth-generation Sephardic Jerusalemite. Following his formal education at The Hebrew University, where he studied literature and philosophy, Yehoshua moved to Paris for four years.
In 1967 Yehoshua returned to Israel and served as a paratrooper during the Six Day War. Today he resides in Haifa, where he has been a senior lecturer in literature at the University of Haifa since 1972.
While a strong believer in the legitimacy of Israel’s existence, he is quick to hold his homeland up to a high standard when it comes to moral behavior. Yehoshua has written about his frustration with corrupt government figures and criticized the Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
A Provocative Body of Work
Yehoshua’s stories often have several protagonists and are often told in multiple first-person accounts. This leaves room for overlapping narrative as well as ambiguity at the novel’s end as the characters’ individual stories do not present a unified conclusion, leaving the final assessment up to the readers. He is also credited with being among the first to give voice to an Arab character in post-1948 Israeli literature.
Yehoshua’s first novel, The Lover (1977), is composed of five accounts of a single storyline. Set in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, Adam, a middle-aged Israeli with a wife and daughter, searches for his wife’s lover–the novel’s namesake–who disappeared amidst the chaos of battle. Through Adam’s quest a dramatic series of events unfold, exposing tension on all fronts: among family, between generations, between Jews and Arabs, and amid the overall landscape of Israel.