Birthday: December 19, 1936
Age: 83 Years, 83 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Also Known As: Abraham B. Yehoshua
Born in: Jerusalem
Famous as: Israeli Faulkner
Spouse/Ex-: Dr. Rivka Kirsninsk
father: Yaakov Yehoshua
mother: Malka Rosilio
City: Jerusalem, Israel
education: Hebrew University of Jerusalem
awards: 1990 - National Jewish Book Award
1993 - National Jewish Book Award
1995 - Israel Prize for Literature
2006 - Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Counted among the most widely read authors in Israel, 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. Since most of his works have several protagonists, the narratives are often overlapping and inconclusive, leaving the readers to think and reach their own conclusions. He is passionately in love with his country and Jewish heritage, and his patriotism is reflected in his writings. Deeply troubled by the rampant corruption and political unrest in Israel, he often writes about his disillusionment with government officials. He is well known not only in his home country but also across the world and his works have been translated into 28 languages.
Childhood & Early Life
He 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.
Yehoshua served as a paratrooper in the Israeli army from 1954 to 1957.
He received his formal education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he studied literature and philosophy.
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He began writing during 1957–58 and published his first book of stories, ‘The Death of the Old Man’ in 1962. Soon he became popular and was counted among the “new wave” generation of Israeli writers whose works differed considerably from those of earlier writers.
As a “new wave” writer, his works focused more on the individual and interpersonal rather than the group. From an early age he was influenced by writers like Franz Kafka, William Faulkner, and Shmuel Yosef Agnon.
He embarked on a teaching career in Jerusalem before moving to Paris in 1963. There he continued teaching and also served as the General Secretary of the World Union of Jewish Students.
He remained in Paris for four years and returned to Israel in 1967. He served as a paratrooper during the Six Day War.
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.
His first novel, ‘The Lover’ was published in 1977. Composed of five accounts of a single storyline, the story was set in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War. It revolves around the story of a man who is in search for his wife’s lover.
He had created a character, Naim, a young Arab boy, in ‘The Lover’, becoming one of the first Israeli writers to have Arabs as main characters in their works.
One of his most famous novels, ‘Mr. Mani’ was published in 1990. The story spanned six generations of a Jewish family, and is told in the form of five conversations about the family. Covering a span of 200 years and extending from Poland and Greece to Palestine and Israel, the novel was considered to be a masterpiece.
In 1993, he published the novel ‘The Late Divorce’ in which he explores the tale of an aging couple who announce to their shocked family their decision to divorce. This novel was appreciated for the brutal honesty of the characters and the social norms they question.
Some of his other famous works are ‘A Journey to the End of the Millennium - A Novel of the Middle Ages’, ‘A Woman in Jerusalem’, ‘Friendly Fire: A Duet’, and ‘The Liberated Bride’. Many of his works have been translated into different languages and have also been adapted for film, television, theatre, and opera.
His novel, ‘Mr. Mani’, a profound story about six generations of the Manis, a Jewish family living in the Middle East, is probably his most acclaimed novel. The book is richly textured and explores the various tragedies that have haunted the Manis through the past several decades.
Awards & Achievements
In 1995, he was awarded the Israel Prize, generally regarded as the state's highest honor, for Hebrew literature.
His novel ‘A Woman in Jerusalem’ was awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 2006.
In Italy he was honored with the Giovanni Boccaccio Prize and the Viareggio Prize for Lifetime Achievement.
In November 2012, Yehoshua received the Prix Médicis étranger for his novel ‘The Retrospective’.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Rivka, a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst, in 1960. He credits his wife for his profound psychological perceptiveness, a quality that enables him to create fictional characters with intense personalities.
He is the proud father of a daughter and two sons, and is also the grandfather of six.