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Posted April 2, 2004
Mystery and Intrigue in the Land of Israel
In his latest novel, 'The Liberated Bride', the Israeli author, A.B. Yehoshua, weaves a tapestry of mystery and intrigue set against a background of Arab and Israeli relations. The character, Professor Yochanen Rivlin, is investigating the cause of his son's divorce of five years ago along with research into the reasons for the Algerian uprising of the early 1900's. A professor of Near Eastern studies at the University of Haifa, Rivlin suffers writer's block in his latest book on Arabs in North Africa. He is distracted by the wedding of his graduate student, Samahar, an Arab,which he attends reluctantly with his wife, Haggit, in an Arab village near the Lebanese border, as the ceremony reminds him of his son's failed marriage. The death of his son's former father-in-law opens up the secret of the one-year union of Ofer and Galya again when he visits the site of their wedding in a hotel in Jerusalem. A chance killing of a colleague in a bus bombing leads him to a trove of Arab stories and legends which stimulates his interest in his own writings. He asks Samahar to translate the stories in return for granting her a graduate degree. Rivlin's travels to the Arab sections of Israel, including the old city of Ramallah, form the most exotic parts of the novel. The parables that he uncovers, especially one of a snake and a hyena who keep each other from starving, makes one wonder which countries they stand for in that strife-torn area of the Middle East. Rivlin finds catharsis in his search for personal answers while the larger issues remain unsolved. But the rich texture of the novel with its cast of Israeli and Arab characters both entice and delight the reader.
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Posted March 2, 2009
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