Synopses & Reviews
Winner, Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger
An aging Israeli film director has been invited to the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela for a retrospective of his work. When Yair Moses and Ruth, his leading actress and longtime muse, settle into their hotel room, a painting over their bed triggers a distant memory in Moses from one of his early films: a scene that caused a rift with his brilliant but difficult screenwriter—who, as it happens, was once Ruths lover. Upon their return to Israel, Moses decides to travel to the south to look for his elusive former partner and propose a new collaboration. But the screenwriter demands a price for it that will have strange and lasting consequences.
A searching and original novel by one of the worlds most esteemed writers, The Retrospective is a meditation on mortality and intimacy, on the limits of memory and the struggle of artistic creation.
"[Q]uietly provocative and deeply important consideration of how the desire for liberation of various kinds is inescapable in human nature." Publishers Weekly
"A splendidly realized search for the causes of ruptures that rend families and nations: both timely and timeless." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] great read...by turns profoundly funny and simply profound there's a deep understanding of interpersonal relationships regardless of geography. Strongly recommended." Library Journal
"Sometimes tender and generous, sometimes grotesque and calamitous remains, somehow, hopeful."
The New Yorker
"[B]rilliantly portrays character from separate sectors of Israeli life, united above all by a very human desire for, and fear of, the truth in politics and life." Cultural Affairs Department at the Embassy of Israel
"Yehoshua has a great talent for mixing operatic drama with political and religious rumination without falling into moralizing or absurdism." Matt King, San Francisco Chronicle
"The Liberated Bride is a magnificent, often comic, and humanely inexorable journey among Israel's Jews and their secret and denied sharers: its Arabs." Richard Eder, The New York Times Book Review
PRAISE FOR A. B. YEHOSHUA
"A master storyteller whose tales reveal the inner life of a vital, conflicted nation."-The Wall Street Journal
"Wherever this innovative, erudite, suggestive, mysterious writer-a true master of contemporary fiction-points us, there can be no doubt, it is essential that we go."-The Washington Post
PRAISE FOR THE LIBERATED BRIDE
"Yehoshua, the most daring of the major Israeli writers, tells a simple story about a region that complicates all it touches . . . [and] remains, somehow, hopeful."-The New Yorker
"The Liberated Bride is a magnificent, often comic, and humanely inexorable journey among Israel's Jews and their secret and denied sharers: the Arabs. . . .Yehoshua, who is 70 and a dove, has written a novel that incarnates the message to extraordinary literary effect." -The New York Times Book Review
"Yehoshua's intelligent and refined novel. . . about an aging Israeli director reviewing both his films and his life. . . recalls once again Faulkner's famous dictum that 'the past isn't dead. It isn't even past.'"
—Kirkus (starred review)
"An ambitious, engrossing, playfully testamentary novel" -- Moment
"With beautiful wordsmanship, Yehoshua entangles dignity and humiliation, repugnance and rapture, showing us how difficult they become to distinguish." --Booklist
“In his inimitable style, Yehoshua crafts a powerful allegory of modern Israeli Jewish identity.” - Haaretz "A study of the contested sources of Israeli identity" -- Tablet "Resolutely realistic" -- The Los Angeles Review of Books "Yehoshua delivers a stunning explanation of the ethics of art...A fluid and absorbing novel of ideas; highly recommended." -- Library Journal, starred "An elegant and graceful translation...intelligent and refined." -- Kirkus, starred "Richly plotted" -- The Jewish Week "Yehoshua is one of Israels most highly acclaimed writers, and ‘The Retrospective showcases the author at his finest. He offers a compelling study of character, and a powerful meditation on personal pain and loss, memory, regret, and atonement….a carefully observed portrait of a country in a perpetual state of conflict." -The Jewish Daily Forward "Filled with detailed and realistic descriptions even as myth and memory are explored, The Retrospective is deeply satisfying, rich sto- rytelling from this outstand- ing Israeli writer." -- The Chicago Jewish Star "Achieves an autumnal tone as he ruminates on memorys slippery hold on life and on art." -- The New Yorker
Yochanan Rivlin, a professor at Haifa University, is a man of boundless and often naïve curiosity. His wife, Hagit, a district judge, is tolerant of almost everything but her husband's faults and prevarications. Frequent arguments aside, they are a well-adjusted couple with two grown sons.
When one of Rivlin's students-a young Arab bride from a village in the Galilee-is assigned to help with his research in recent Algerian history, a two-pronged mystery develops. As they probe the causes of the bloody Algerian civil war, Rivlin also becomes obsessed with his son's failed marriage.
Rivlin's search leads to a number of improbable escapades. In this comedy of manners, at once deeply serious and highly entertaining, Yehoshua brilliantly portrays characters from disparate sectors of Israeli life, united above all by a very human desire for, and fear of, the truth in politics and life.
In this comedy of manners, at once deeply serious and highly entertaining, Yehoshua brilliantly portrays characters from disparate sectors of Israeli life, united above all by a very human desire for, and fear of, the truth in politics and life.
From the acclaimed author of A Woman in Jerusalem, a novel about a director, a screenwriter and an actress, old friends and colleagues who meet up for the first time in decades in Santiago de Compostela, and are forced to face the demons that undid them years before, and the ones haunting them now.
About the Author
A. B. YEHOSHUA is one of Israel's preeminent writers. His novels include A Journey to the End of the Millenium, The Liberated Bride, and A Woman in Jerusalem, which was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2007. He lives in Haifa. An author, journalist, and internationally reknowned, awarding-winning translator, Hillel Halkin has translated several novels from Hebrew into English.
Reading Group Guide
Introduction A novel that stirs us to examine the nature of loyalty, identity, and history itself, The Liberated Bride presents a multitude of sectors in Israeli life, as seen through the eyes of an endearing professor named Yochanan Rivlin. Acclaimed author A. B. Yehoshua begins the journey with a wedding; the bride is one of Rivlin's students, a young Arab woman from a village in the Galilee. From this memorable evening springs a series of storylines that weave together Rivlin's own wife (a venerable judge), his research in Algeria's recent civil war, his son's failed marriage, translations of ancient storytelling, and even the passersby in Rivlin's neighborhood. As a fascinating tapestry emerges from scenes that are by turns deeply serious and highly entertaining, Yehoshua captures the universal desire for truth as well as the legacies of conquest that ripple throughout the world. We hope that the following questions and topics will enhance your discussion of this provocative novel. For additional guides from Harvest, visit us at www.HarcourtBooks.com. Questions and Topics for Discussion Q> In what way does Samaher's wedding set the tone for the novel? What is the nature of the unions-political, nuptial, or otherwise-considered by Rivlin? Q> Throughout The Liberated Bride, Rivlin and the other characters must cross through numerous geographic borders. What are the parameters for defining homeland in the novel? Who is permitted to receive hospitality? What constitutes a foreigner? Q> Rivlin and his colleagues grapple with age-old conflicts regarding Israel and surrounding regions. How does the scholarly world's approach differ from that of politicians? Q> Discuss the portrayals of Rivlin's mother. What does her ghost signify to him? Q> Compare and contrast Rivlin's two sons. Do they reflect aspects of their father in any way? What was the effect of Ofer's secrecy and his immersion in his father-in-law's business? What are the social implications of his choices? Q> What does Rivlin discover about himself through the ancient Arab stories, translated from a blood-spattered manuscript? Q> Do you believe that Samaher was attempting to convey a message to Rivlin through her work on the project, or was she simply trying to stay motivated? What do you make of her rumored pregnancy? Q> The airport is a frequent destination in the novel. What does this indicate about the novel's setting in general, and Rivlin's role as ambassador and way station? Q> How would you characterize Rivlin's marriage? What techniques do he and his wife use to negotiate their mutual desire to be "right," as well as other issues such as tidiness, time management, and sex? How does Hagit compare to the other female characters in the novel? Q> Discuss the novel's various narratives of faith-including Rivlin's witnessing Ramadan and the fainting nun. What gives him such tolerance and curiosity? How does he characterize his own religious beliefs? Q> What might have prevented Rasheed from being subjected to such violence? Did Rashid place him in the crosshairs of Calamity and Right? Q> The repercussions of French colonization in Algeria form a recurring thread throughout the novel. What parallels can be drawn between this North African history and that of Rivlin's world-the history of Israel as well as Rivlin's own personal story? Q> Does Galya's reappearance at the end of the novel resolve previous questions among Ofer and his family, or does she create new dilemmas for them? Q> Discuss A. B. Yehoshua's storytelling style. What is the effect of his many literary devices, including intermittent use of second person and first person, the inclusion of fables, and an occasional epistolary format? In what way can language and linguistic history deepen our understanding of a people? Q> What can American audiences learn from the novel? What might Rivlin like to teach them, if he were their professor? Q> Consider the author's use of the word liberated in the title. Who in the novel becomes liberated, and from what? Who has the power to truly liberate others, both in the novel and in the world at large? About the Author Born in Jerusalem, A. B. Yehoshua is one of Israel's preeminent contemporary writers. He is the author of numerous novels, including Mr. Mani, Open Heart, and A Journey to the End of the Millennium. A fifth-generation Israeli, he lives in Haifa.
Written by Amy Root Copyright © 2004 Harcourt, Inc.