A B Yehoshua was born on December 19, 1936 into a fifth-generation Jerusalem family. His father, Yaakov Yehoshua was a scholar and a historian who also wrote books about the Sephardic community of Israel from which the family hailed.
His mother, Malka Rosilio, was the daughter of a wealthy Moroccan businessman who had settled in Jerusalem during the 1930s. He has one sister. Abraham B. Yehoshua, is the man who wrote novels like ‘Mr. Mani’ and ‘Journey to the End of the Millennium’ – works which are deeply rooted in Jewish culture and Israeli way of life.
A highly skilled writer who combines elements of history, politics, and literature to produce works that the readers across the world connect with, he is truly one of the greatest writers to have been born in Israel. He is most famous for his narrative style that captures the readers’ imagination with its easy flow and imagery.
His style of writing, marked by a certain innocence and simplicity, forces his readers to explore human life and emotions, and search for deeper meanings in the mundane activities of everyday life. Yehoshua’s stories often have several protagonists and are often told in multiple first-person accounts.
This leaves room for overlapping narrative as well as ambiguity at the novel’s end as the characters’ individual stories do not present a unified conclusion, leaving the final assessment up to the readers. He is also credited with being among the first to give voice to an Arab character in post-1948 Israeli literature.
In 1972, he started teaching Comparative and Hebrew Literature at the University of Haifa eventually becoming a full professor. He became a writer-in-residence at St. Cross College, Oxford in 1975, and has since been a visiting professor at several international universities including Harvard and the University of Chicago.
Yehoshua’s first novel, The Lover (1977), is composed of five accounts of a single storyline. Set in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, Adam, a middle-aged Israeli with a wife and daughter, searches for his wife’s lover–the novel’s namesake–who disappeared amidst the chaos of battle.
Through Adam’s quest a dramatic series of events unfold, exposing tension on all fronts: among family, between generations, between Jews and Arabs, and amid the overall landscape of Israel. In The Late Divorce (1982), Yehoshua employs a similar style. Spanning the 10 days before Passover, the story revolves around an aging couple seeking a divorce and the impact this has on their family. The novel plays with social mores, leaving readers uncomfortable with the brash honesty of Yehoshua’s characters’ words.
Among his numerous prizes, Yehoshua was honored with Israel’s most prestigious award, the Israel Prize, in 1995. He has been described by the New York Times as a “kind of Israeli Faulkner” for his ability to depict the zeitgeist of Contemporary Israel.
Jewish-Israeli identity has to contend with all the elements of life via the binding and sovereign framework of a territorially defined state. And therefore the extent of its reach into life is immeasurably fuller and broader and more meaningful than the Jewishness of an American Jew, whose important and meaningful life decisions are made within the framework of American nationality or citizenship. His Jewishness is voluntary and deliberate, and he may calibrate its pitch in accordance with his needs.