Open Heart

Overview

“Seductively heady . . . Ingeniously explores the unfathomable mysteries of the heart.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

A young Israeli intern vying for the position of surgeon learns that his internship has been terminated and he has been chosen to accompany the hospital administrator and his wife on a trip to India. There, the couple intend to retrieve their ailing daughter and bring her back to Israel. The long journey awakens urges in the young ...

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Open Heart

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Overview

“Seductively heady . . . Ingeniously explores the unfathomable mysteries of the heart.” —Philadelphia Inquirer

A young Israeli intern vying for the position of surgeon learns that his internship has been terminated and he has been chosen to accompany the hospital administrator and his wife on a trip to India. There, the couple intend to retrieve their ailing daughter and bring her back to Israel. The long journey awakens urges in the young doctor that will threaten his carefully contained world.

Juxtaposing Western realism and Eastern mysticism, Open Heart is an “astonishing work about love in all its forms. [One that] speaks across the barriers of translation and culture to readers everywhere” (Washington Post Book World).

“At times incantatory and magical, sometimes disturbing, and often astonishing . . . Entertains the mind while it captivates the soul.” —Seattle Times

"Mind-expanding and poetic, a book that will stay with you long after you have turned its final page.” —New York Times

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Editorial Reviews

Seattle Times
At times incantory and magical, sometimes disturbing and often astonishing, Open Heart never fails to entertain the mind while it captivates the soul.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The irrational, untamable power of love becomes almost palpable in Israeli novelist Yehoshua's intense novel of forbidden passion, obsession and spiritual yearning. Its introspective, ironic narrator, Benjamin Rubin Benjy, an internist in surgery at a Tel Aviv hospital, is asked by the hospital director, Dr. Lazar, to accompany him to a remote town in India where Lazar's college-dropout daughter, Einat, is suffering from acute hepatitis and urgently needs medical care. Benjy, 29, falls madly in love-not with Einat, whose life he saves, but with Dori, Lazar's matronly, spoiled, ordinary, 50-ish wife, whom he beds once. When she rejects his passion as impossible and silly, Benjy hastily marries hippie-like, kibbutz-raised Michaela, who espouses Hindu religious concepts and works with the "sidewalk doctors" of Calcutta. They have a daughter, Shivi, but, despite their sexual rapport and mutual affection, theirs is not a marriage of love. When Lazar requires open-heart surgery, Benjy, who takes part in the operation, must ask himself whether he truly wants to save the man or whether he wishes Lazar dead so that he can pursue his impossible love for Dori. At times, Benjy's minute self-analysis is wearying, and it's tempting to dismiss his problems as a passing Oedipal fixation. Mostly, however, Yehoshua Mr. Mani mingles fascinating medical detail with the story of one man seeking to open his own heart to life's possibilities, including pain. Author tour. May
Library Journal
Israeli novelist Yehoshua, whose Mr. Mani (LJ 2/15/93) won several literary prizes, has written an interesting character study of young Israeli doctor Benjamin Rubin. Ambitious and self-centered, he unwillingly helps a couple bring their seriously ill daughter home from India. His life becomes inextricably tied to theirs when he becomes deeply infatuated with the mother, which threatens to affect his career and his whole life. A fascination with India's philosophy permeates the story and contrasts directly with the realistic medical details. While the characterization of hospital politics is well done, Benjy's openness about his affair does not ring true, and his treatment of his wife, Michaela, is nothing less than shabby. Excellent on setting but less believable on the relationships, this should still be a popular choice for public libraries.-Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Seductively heady. . .A.B. Yehoshua's latest tour de force ingeniously explores the unfathomable mysteries of the heart.
Seattle Times
At times incantory and magical, sometimes disturbing and often astonishing, Open Heart never fails to entertain the mind while it captivates the soul.
Kirkus Reviews
Israeli writer Yehoshua (the prize-winning Mr. Mani, 1992, etc.) returns to the more intimate dilemmas of his previous work.

Where Mr. Mani was a sweeping, multigenerational tale with an omniscient narrator, Yehoshua's latest is a slow-developing drama of adultery told almost completely from the point of view of its principal character—Benjy Rubin, a bright young intern at a Tel Aviv hospital, whose fondest desire is to be a surgeon, though his mentor, Dr. Hishin, is trying to steer him into internal medicine. Things take an unexpected turn when at Hishin's recommendation Benjy is asked to accompany the hospital's administrative director, Lazar, to India to tend for and retrieve Lazar's daughter Einat. Joining the two will be Lazar's wife, Dori. Benjy acquits himself well in India but on his return finds himself irresistibly drawn to Dori: "Ever since my mysterious infatuation. . . ," he says at one point, "my life had begun flowing along a crooked, winding course." The story follows the same course, taking Benjy through a friend's wedding that leads him almost directly to the altar with a surprising partner, then to a year's stay in England working in an exchange program with another hospital, and, finally, to the birth of his daughter. When Lazar dies after a seemingly routine bypass operation, Benjy's relationship with Dori takes a series of unexpected turns, resulting in the apparent destruction of his marriage. Yehoshua tells this tale with his usual deft sense of irony, even though his narrator, however self-conscious, remains apparently unaware of how ridiculous he becomes at times; and the author's device of intervening periodically to offer dreamlike asides obliquely related to the story becomes distracting, making a long book seem even longer.

Still, even if not up to its predecessor, this is nonetheless the work of a superb novelist: haunting and annoying by turns, with considerable emotional payoff at the close.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780156004848
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 5/1/1997
  • Series: Harvest in Translation Series
  • Pages: 510
  • Sales rank: 811,466
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet 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.

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