Abraham B. Yehoshua

Article

July 6, 2022

Abraham B. Yehoshua, pen name A. B. Yehoshua (א.ב. יהושע), Jerusalem, December 19, 1936 - Tel Aviv, June 14, 2022) was an Israeli novelist, essayist and playwright. as “the Israeli Faulkner” according to The New York Times. He was recognized as one of Israel’s most prestigious writers.

Biography

Abraham ("Boolie") Yehoshua was born into the fifth-generation Jerusalem family of Sephardic descent. His father, Yaakov Yehoshua, was a scholar and author specializing in the history of Jerusalem. His mother, Malka Rosilio, emigrated from Morocco in 1932. He grew up in the Kerem Avraham district of Jerusalem. Yehoshua served as a paratrooper in the Israeli army between 1954 and 1957. He attended Gymnasia Rehavia. After studying literature and philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he began teaching. He lived in the Neve Sha'anan district of Jerusalem. From 1963 to 1967 he lived and taught in Paris and served as 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. In 1975 he was a resident writer at St Cross College, Oxford. He was also a visiting professor at Harvard University (1977), Chicago (1988, 1997, 2000) and Princeton (1992). He was married to Rivka, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, and they had a daughter and two sons and six grandchildren. He died on June 14, 2022 in a Tel Aviv hospital at the age of twenty-five, from cancer.

Literary career

From the end of his military service, Yehoshua began to publish fiction. His first book of short stories, Mot Hazaken ("The Death of the Old Man") was published in 1962. He became a prominent figure in the "new generation" of Israeli writers who differed from the first writers in his focus on the individual and the interpersonal rather than the group. Yehoshua named Franz Kafka, Shmuel Yosef Agnon, and William Faulkner as formative influences. Harold Bloom wrote an article about Yehoshua A Late Divorce in The New York Times, and also mentioned it in his book The Western Canon. Yehoshua was the author of eleven novels, three short story books, four plays and four collections of essays, including Ahizat Moledet (Homeland Lesson, 2008), a book of reflections on identity and literature. His best novel, Mr. Mani, is a multigenerational look at Jewish identity and Israel through five conversations that span time to cover more than 200 years of Jewish life in Jerusalem and around the Mediterranean basin. It was adapted for television as a five-part multilingual series by director Ram Loevy. Like many of his works, his eighth novel, Friendly Fire, explores the nature of dysfunctional family relationships in a drama that moves here between Israel and Tanzania. His works have been translated in 28 countries, and many have been adapted for film, television, theater and opera.

Views and opinions

Yehoshua was an activist of the Israel Peace Movement. He attended the signing of the Geneva Agreement and freely expressed his political views in essays and interviews. He was a critic of the Israeli occupation, but also of the Palestinians. He and other intellectuals mobilized on behalf of the New Movement - Merits before the Israeli elections of 2009. According to La Stampa, before Operation Lead Cast of the Israeli Army (2008-2009), he issued a call to Gaza residents urging them to end the violence. He explained why the Israeli operation was necessary and why it had to end: "Precisely because the people of Gaza are our neighbors, we must be proportionate in this operation. We must try to reach a ceasefire as soon as possible.