Synopses & Reviews
"A world-class writer at the height of his powers." --The Boston Globe
Yochanan Rivlin, professor of Near Eastern studies at Haifa University, is a man of boundless and often naïve curiosity. His wife Hagit is tolerant of almost everything but her husband's faults and prevarications. Rivlin's obsession with his eldest son's failed marriage proves to be one such problem. Why did his bride leave him, though to all appearances they had been at peace together?
While his wife warns him that the truth is always relative and often painful besides, Rivlin's search leads to a number of improbable escapades. In this comedy of manners, at once deeply serious and highly entertaining, Yehoshua richly portrays disparate sectors of Israeli life - Jewish and Arab, urban and rural, religious and secular, middle-class and lower-class, educated and uneducated. And characters with a very human desire for, and fear of, the truth in politics and in life.
"The pure craft of a writer in exceptional form." -- The Washington Post Book World
A. B. Yehoshua is the widely acclaimed author of numerous novels, including JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE MILLENIUM, FIVE SEASONS, MR. MANI, THE LOVER, and OPEN HEART. One of Israel's preeminent writers, he has been awarded the Israeli Prize, the Koret Jewish Book Award, and the National Jewish Book Award. He lives in Haifa.
"[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
"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
"[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
"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
"[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
Yochanan Rivlin, a professor at Haifa University, is a man of boundless and often naive 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.
Yochanan Rivlin, a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Haifa University, is determined to understand two conflicts that have become central in his life - the Algerian civil war of the 1990s and his son's divorce. His is a double search for truth, each involving a different bride - Samaher, his own research assistant, an ambitious Arab newlywed from a village in the Galilee, and Galya, who deserted his son in Jerusalem with no explanation. Against his wife's better judgment, Rivlin obsessively tries to get to the core of both problems, crossing boundaries at once personal and political - man and wife, father and son, teacher and pupil, Israeli and Arab.
With equal measures of energy, humor, anxiety, and poetry, Yehoshua portrays a life sometimes improbable, often dark, and infinitely rich. The Liberated Bride is a feat of masterly storytelling from one of the world's great novelists.
About the Author
A. B. YEHOSHUA is the author of numerous novels, including Mr. Mani, Five Seasons, The Liberated Bride, and A Woman in Jerusalem. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages, and he has received many awards worldwide, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Jewish Book Award. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. 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.