A. B. Yehoshua

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A. B. Yehoshua
A B Yehoshua DSC0153 (cropped).jpg
Yehoshua in 2017
BornAvraham Gabriel Yehoshua
(1936-12-09)December 9, 1936
Jerusalem, Mandatory Palestine
DiedJune 14, 2022(2022-06-14) (aged 85)
Tel Aviv, Israel [1]
  • Novelist
  • essayist
  • short story writer
  • playwright
Alma mater Hebrew University of Jerusalem (BA, 1961)
Teachers College (1962)
Sorbonne (MA, French Literature)
Literary movementIsraeli "New Wave"
Notable worksMr. Mani (1990); The Lover (1977); "Facing the Forest"
Notable awards ACUM Prize
National Jewish Book Award
1990, 1993
Israel Prize for Literature
Los Angeles Times Book Prize
2006 A Woman in Jerusalem
Rivka Kirsninski
(m. 1960;died 2016)

Avraham Gabriel Yehoshua (Hebrew : אברהם גבריאל (בולי) יהושע; 9 December 1936 – 14 June 2022 [2] ) was an Israeli novelist, essayist, and playwright. The New York Times called him the "Israeli Faulkner". [3] Underlying themes in Yehoshua's work are Jewish identity, the tense relations with non-Jews, the conflict between the older and younger generations, and the clash between religion and politics. [4]



Avraham Gabriel ("Boolie") Yehoshua was born to a third-generation Jerusalem family of Sephardi origin from Salonika, Greece. His father Yaakov Yehoshua, the son and grandson of rabbis, was a scholar and author specializing in the history of Jerusalem. His mother, Malka Rosilio, was born and raised in Mogador, Morocco, France, and immigrated to Jerusalem with her parents in 1932. He grew up in Jerusalem's Kerem Avraham neighbourhood. [5]

He attended Gymnasia Rehavia municipal high school in Jerusalem. [6] As a youth, Yehoshua was active in the Hebrew Scouts. After completing his studies, Yehoshua was drafted to the Israeli army, where he served as a paratrooper from 1954 to 1957, and participated in the 1956 Sinai War. After studying literature and philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he began teaching. He lived in Jerusalem's Neve Sha'anan neighborhood. [7]

From 1963 to 1967, Yehoshua lived and taught in Paris and served as the General Secretary of the World Union of Jewish Students. From 1972, he taught Comparative and Hebrew Literature at the University of Haifa, where he held the rank of Full Professor. [8] In 1975 he was a writer-in-residence at St Cross College, Oxford. He has also been a visiting professor at Harvard (1977), the University of Chicago (1988, 1997, 2000); and Princeton (1992).

Yehoshua was married to Rivka, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, until her death in 2016. He died of esophageal cancer, on June 14, 2022, in Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. [9] [10]

Literary career

Yehoshua with his wife, Rivka, in Paris (1990s) A B Yehoshua and RIvka Yehoshua.jpg
Yehoshua with his wife, Rivka, in Paris (1990s)

From the end of his military service, Yehoshua began to publish fiction. His first book of stories, Mot Hazaken (The Death of the Old Man), was published in 1962. He became a prominent figure in the "new wave" generation of Israeli writers, who differed from their predecessors in focusing more closely on the individual, and interpersonal concerns, rather than the psychology of a group. Yehoshua named Franz Kafka, Shmuel Yosef Agnon, [11] and William Faulkner as formative influences. [12] Harold Bloom wrote an article about Yehoshua's A Late Divorce in The New York Times , [13] mentioning the work again in his The Western Canon . [14]

Yehoshua is the author of twelve novels, three books of short stories, four plays, and four collections of essays, including Ahizat Moledet (Homeland Lesson, 2008), a book of reflections on identity and literature. His best-received novel, Mr Mani, is a multigenerational look at Jewish identity and Israel through five conversations that go backwards in time to cover over 200 years of Jewish life in Jerusalem and around the Mediterranean basin. [15] It was adapted for television as a five-part multilingual series by director Ram Loevy. As do many of his works, his eighth novel, Friendly Fire, explores the nature of dysfunctional family relationships [15] in a drama that moves back and forth between Israel and Tanzania. [16] His works have been translated and published in 28 countries; many have been adapted for film, television, theatre, and opera.

Views and opinions

Yehoshua was an Israeli Peace Movement activist. He set out his political views in essays and interviews and attended the signing of the Geneva Accord. Yehoshua was both a long-standing critic of the Israeli occupation and also of Palestinian political culture. [15]

He and other intellectuals mobilized on behalf of the dovish New Movement before the 2009 elections in Israel. [17]

According to La Stampa , before the 2008–2009 Israel-Gaza conflict he published an appeal to Gaza residents urging them to end the violence. He explained why the Israeli operation was necessary and why it needed to end: "Precisely because the Gazans are our neighbours, we need to be proportionate in this operation. We need to try to reach a cease-fire as quickly as possible. We will always be neighbours, so the less blood is shed, the better the future will be." [18] Yehoshua added that he would be happy for the border crossings to be opened completely and for Palestinians to work in Israel as part of a cease-fire. [18]

Yehoshua was criticized by the American Jewish community for his statement that a "full Jewish life could only be had in the Jewish state." He claimed that Jews elsewhere were only "playing with Judaism." [15] "Diaspora Judaism is masturbation," Yehoshua told editors and reporters at The Jerusalem Post . In Israel, he said, it is "the real thing." [19]

Awards and recognition

Mr. Mani manuscript, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem GLAM National Library of Israel Tour P1100252.JPG
Mr. Mani manuscript, National Library of Israel, Jerusalem


Works in English translation


Short stories



See also

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  1. "Renowned Israeli writer A.B. Yehoshua died at 85, Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital said on Tuesday." - https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/culture/2022-06-14/ty-article/.premium/renowned-israeli-writer-a-b-yehoshua-dies-at-85/00000181-60cb-d525-af97-f0ffefb50000 https://www.ynet.co.il/entertainment/article/rJptltr1d
  2. "AB Yehoshua obituary". The Guardian . June 15, 2022. Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  3. "Extra strong". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com.
  4. The Final Despair – and Hope – of A.B. Yehoshua, Haaretz
  5. Golani Motti (2004). ""If I lived there it would crush me" Jerusalem from the Biographical to the Historical and Back: A Conversation with A. B. Yehoshua". Journal of Israeli History. 23 (2): 279–300. doi:10.1080/1353104042000282429. S2CID   161458710.
  6. Alan L. Mintz (October 1, 1997). The boom in contemporary Israeli fiction. UPNE. pp. 127–8. ISBN   978-0-87451-830-6 . Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  7. Becker, Avihai (April 24, 2009). "Catch '74". Haaretz. Archived from the original on April 28, 2009.
  8. Feld, Ross. "Restless Souls Archived February 13, 2005, at the Wayback Machine : The novels of Israeli writer A. B. Yehoshua create their own diaspora." Boston Review, 2000.
  9. Berger, Joseph (June 14, 2022). "A.B. Yehoshua, Politically Engaged Israeli Writer, Dies at 85". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved June 18, 2022.
  10. "Abraham B. Yehoshua, prominent Israeli author dies". Ynetnews. June 14, 2022 via www.ynetnews.com.
  11. On Yehoshua's indebtedness to Agnon: “The ‘Double Triangle’ Paradigm in Hebrew Fiction: National Redemption in Bi-generational Love Triangles
  12. Wiley, David. ""Talkin' 'bout his generation: Israeli writer A.B. Yehoshua on the waning art of the democratic novel."". Archived from the original on January 18, 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)Minnesota Daily, 1997.
  13. Bloom, Harold. Domestic Derangements; A Late Divorce, By A.B. Yehoshua Translated by Hillel Halkin, The New York Times, February 19, 1984. Retrieved May 5, 2012
  14. Bloom, Harold, The Western Canon New York: Harcourt Brace & Co, 1994, 559
  15. 1 2 3 4 Bronner, Ethan (November 13, 2008). "A.B. Yehoshua's 'Friendly Fire'". The New York Times.
  16. Gerald Sorin (November 23, 2008). "Dark continent, dark prophecies". Haaretz.
  17. Benny Morris (December 14, 2008). "Israel's crisis of leadership". Los Angeles Times.
  18. 1 2 Maya Sela (December 30, 2008). "Amos Oz: Hamas responsible for outbreak of Gaza violence". Haaretz. Archived from the original on December 24, 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2009.
  19. "Leaving Israel". The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com.
  20. "List of Bialik Prize recipients 1933–2004 (in Hebrew), Tel Aviv Municipality website" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 17, 2007.
  21. "Israel Prize Official Site – Recipients in 1995 (in Hebrew)". Archived from the original on December 27, 2008.
  22. "Past Winners". Jewish Book Council. Retrieved January 20, 2020.
  23. "Premio Napoli". Fondazione Premio Napoli (in Italian). Retrieved June 15, 2022.
  24. Yehoshua wins French literary prize for 'The Retrospective', Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), November 7, 2012.
  25. "Author Jamaica Kincaid wins Israeli Dan David Prize". Haaretz. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  26. Prize, Dan David. "A. B. Yehoshua". www.dandavidprize.org. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  27. from a speech delivered at the opening panel of the centennial celebration of the American Jewish Committee."Jerusalem Post Article, AJN Article at the Wayback Machine (archived September 17, 2008)
  28. "A. B. Yehoshua at an academic conference". Jerusalem Post . June 21, 2002. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2017.
  29. A. B. Yehoshua (January 16, 2009). "An open letter to Gideon Levy". Haaretz.
  30. A Nations that Knows no Bounds Interview with A.B. Yehoshua Haaretz | date=March 18 2004
  31. "NYTimes". archive.nytimes.com.
  32. "He's Losing His Mind. Maybe His Country Is Too?". The New York Times . August 4, 2020.

Further reading


  1. Halevi-Wise, Yael The Retrospective Imagination of A. B. Yehoshua (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2020). The Retrospective Imagination of A. B. Yehoshua By Yael Halevi-Wise
  2. Horn, Bernard. Facing the Fires: Conversations with A. B. Yehoshua (Syracuse: University of Syracuse Press, 1998).
  3. Miron, Dan. A. B. Yehoshua’s Ninth-and-a-Half: An “Ashkenazi” Perspective on Two “Sephardic” Novels [Hebrew]. Tel Aviv: Hakibbutz Hameuhad, 2011.
  4. Balaban, Avraham. Mr. Molcho: In the Opposite Direction: An Analysis of A. B. Yehoshua’s Mr. Mani and Molcho [Hebrew]. Tel Aviv: Ha-kibbutzha-meuchad, 1992.
  5. Banbaji, Amir, NitzaBen Dov and Ziva Shamir, eds. Intersecting Perspectives: Essays on A. B. Yehoshua’s Oeuvre [Hebrew]. Tel Aviv: Ha-kibbutz ha-meuchad, 2010.
  6. Ben-Dov, Nitza, ed. In the Opposite Direction: Articles on Mr. Mani [Hebrew]. Tel Aviv: Ha-kibbutz ha-meuhad, 1995.
  7. Morahg, Gilead. Furious Compassion: The Fiction of A. B. Yehoshua [Hebrew]. Tel Aviv: Dvir, 2014.

Journal articles

  1. Gershon Shaked Interviews A. B. Yehoshua By: Shaked, Gershon; Modern Hebrew Literature, 2006 Fall; 3: 157–69.
  2. A Haifa Life: The Israeli Novelist Talks about Ducking into His Safe Room, Competition among His Writer Friends and Trying to Stay Optimistic about Peace in the Middle East By: Solomon, Deborah; New York Times Magazine, July 30, 2006; 13.
  3. In the Back Yard of Agnon's House: Between The Liberated Bride by A. B. Yehoshua and S. Y. Agnon By: Ben-Dov, Nitza; Hebrew Studies: A Journal Devoted to Hebrew Language and Literature, 2006; 47: 237–51.
  4. Yael Halevi-Wise, "The Watchman’s Stance in A. B. Yehoshua’s Fiction," Hebrew Studies 58 (2017): 357–382.
  5. Talking with A. B. Yehoshua By: Naves, Elaine Kalman; Queen's Quarterly, 2005 Spring; 112 (1): 76–86.
  6. Yael Halevi-Wise, “La formation d’une identité israélienne dans l’ouvre de A.B. Yehoshua.” Une journée avec Avraham Yehoshua: Revue Lacanienne 30 (2016): 161–172.
  7. The Silence of the Historian and the Ingenuity of the Storyteller: Rabbi Amnon of Mayence and Esther Minna of Worms By: Yuval, Israel Jacob; Common Knowledge, 2003 Spring; 9 (2): 228–40.
  8. The Plot of Suicide in A. B. Yehoshua and Leo Tolstoy By: Horn, Bernard; European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms, 2001 Oct; 6 (5): 633–38.
  9. The Originary Scene, Sacrifice, and the Politics of Normalization in A. B. Yehoshua's Mr. Mani By: Katz, Adam; Anthropoetics: The Electronic Journal of Generative Anthropology, 2001 Fall-2002 Winter; 7 (2): 9 paragraphs.
  10. Borderline Cases: National Identity and Territorial Affinity in A. B. Yehoshua's Mr. Mani By: Morahg, Gilead; AJS Review 30:1, 2006: 167–182.
  11. Yael Halevi-Wise, "Holidays in A. B. Yeshoshua's Opus and Ethos," Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal Studies 35.2 (2017): 55–80.
  12. The Perils of Hybridity: Resisting the Post-Colonial Perspective in A. B. Yehoshua's The Liberating Bride By: Morahg, Gilead; AJS Review 33:2, 2009: 363–378.
  13. Portrait of the Artist as an Aging Scholar: A. B. Yehoshua's The Liberating Bride By: Morahg, Gilead; Hebrew Studies 50, 2009: 175–183.
  14. Early Warnings: The Grim Vision of The Liberating Bride By: Morahg, Gilead; Mikan 10, 2010: 5–18.
  15. Ranen Omer-Sherman, “On the verge of a long-craved intimacy’: Distance and Proximity Between Jews and Arab Identities in A. B. Yehoshua's The Liberated Bride,” Journal of Jewish Identities 2.1 (2009): 55- 84.
  16. Yael Halevi-Wise, “Where is the Sephardism in A. B. Yehoshua’s Hesed Sefardi/The Retrospective?” Sephardic Horizons 4.1 (2014): Sephardic Horizons

Book articles

  1. Horn, Bernard. "Sephardic Identity and Its Discontents: The Novels of A. B. Yehoshua" in Sephardism: Spanish Jewish History and the Modern Literary Imagination, Ed. Yael Halevi-Wise (Stanford University Press, 2012).
  2. Halevi-Wise, Yael. "A. B. Yehoshua’s Mr. Mani and the Playful Subjectivity of History,” in Interactive Fictions: Scenes of Storytelling in the Novel. Westport, CT & London: Praeger, 2003. 132–145.
  3. Morahg, Gilead. Shading the Truth: A. B. Yehoshua's 'Facing the Forests' IN: Cutter and Jacobson, History and Literature: New Readings of Jewish Texts in Honor of Arnold J. Band. Providence, RI: Program in Judaic Studies, Brown University; 2002. pp. 409–18
  4. Feldman, Yael. Between Genesis and Sophocles: Biblical Psychopolitics in A. B. Yehoshua's Mr. Mani IN: Cutter and Jacobson, History and Literature: New Readings of Jewish Texts in Honor of Arnold J. Band. Providence, RI: Program in Judaic Studies, Brown University; 2002. pp. 451–64
  5. Morahg, Gilead. A Story of Sweet Perdition: Mr. Mani and the Terrible Power of a Great Obsession. IN: Banbaji, Ben-Dov and Shamir, Intersecting Perspectives: Essays on A. B. Yehoshua’s Oeuvre. Hakibbutz Hameuchad (Tel Aviv, 2010), pp. 213–225.