A. B. Yehoshua is sometimes called Israel’s best living novelist, and judging from the variety and complexity of his work, this may be true. His art fictionalizes the controversies that are ever present in Israel: the tensions between European-born and native-born Israelis, the tensions between those who live in Israel and those who choose to live in the Diaspora, the conflicts between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, and the conflicts between Arabs and Israelis. Against the opposing forces of such conflicts, Yehoshua delves deeply into his characters’ inner lives with astute psychological understanding, using certain archetypal and mythic patterns as well.
The Lover, his first full-length novel, immediately brought him international recognition; this work delineates the disintegration of an Ashkenazi family. Not until he wrote Mr. Mani, however—a family epic that spans six generations—did Yehoshua create a protagonist who is Sephardic and whose Sephardic roots play an important role in the story. The technique he employs in Mr. Mani is unusual; the novel is composed of five different conversations at five significant moments of history, but only one side of the dialogue is given in each of these conversations, while the other side must be assumed. In this way Yehoshua combines a long historical span with the personal perspectives of the members of the Mani family. The theme of the disintegration of the family is seen here...
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