Books by Yehoshua Kenaz

INFILTRATION by Yehoshua Kenaz
Released: Sept. 15, 2003

"An arduous read, but well worth the effort."
A prizewinning 1989 novel exhaustively explores the intersecting lives of Israeli soldiers-to-be. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2001

One thinks of Grand Hotel, or perhaps Terence Rattigan's popular play Separate Tables, while reading this entertaining Israeli novel, which joins in English translation its acclaimed author's earlier Musical Moment and The Way to the Cats. The story's set in and near a Tel Aviv apartment complex, whose various inhabitants—including a shy virgin warily contemplating adultery, a wrathful conservative religious zealot, and a family shamed when its soldier son goes AWOL from the Israeli army, among others—are gradually shown to be "connected" in ways that illuminate both their individual priorities and their communal identity. Beautifully structured, and an eye-opening composite portrayal of a culture whose complexities we barely comprehend. Read full book review >
MUSICAL MOMENT by Yehoshua Kenaz
Released: May 11, 1995

Four stories set against the sharply delineated background of Israel in the 1940's and 50's, with a single narrator who matures into selfhood in an often dangerous world. As in the harshly moving The Way to the Cats (1994), Israeli author Kenaz freezes moments in the kaleidoscopic changes of focus within the curious universe of the self. ``The Three-Legged Chicken'' chronicles a liberating moment in the life of a young boy who sees the landscape become ``strange'' as a voice—not his own but one from within—pronounces ``I,I,I,I.'' On the day of his grandfather's death he will witness ugliness and cruelty as men with a lust for spectacle crowd in to see a deformed chicken. In ``Henrik's Secret,'' a girl's beauty and her young brother's secret anguish flare up into loneliness and incomprehensible feelings of guilt (somehow linked to disgust) in the boy. The title tale depicts a moment of exquisite music that becomes the lodestone of this young man's erratic career in violin lessons, during which he closely scrutinizes peers and adults—including his beloved parents, who have their own secrets that would ``follow them like shadows. Beyond my control.'' In ``Between Night and Dawn,'' a group of virtually stereotypical Israeli teens—the leader; the plain, good-guy girl; the beauty; the cynic—are shaken in their roles by the impact of an untamed, sexually disturbing outsider. Throughout the text, Kenaz snaps with precision the instant-by- instant confrontations of life and its moments of releasing joy or love or beauty. At one point the boy turns on a radio: ``In the babble of whistles and and song bursting out and abruptly stifled, I discovered a cruel and abusive world.'' Searching tales in a spare prose, close to the bone. Read full book review >
THE WAY TO THE CATS by Yehoshua Kenaz
Released: March 23, 1994

Israeli author Kenaz, published in English for the first time here, probes the perimeter and then the anguished center of helpless old age, to find within bitterness and fear, heroism and a kind of nobility. Unlovely, griping Mrs. Yolanda Moscowitz, a former French teacher, is recovering from a broken leg in a nursing institution. ``A big heavy woman, her face very raddled...with narrow slits of eyes pristine blue, clear and bright, like scraps of a lost distant sky.'' She takes great pains with her hair however, as if it ``had some magic power to protect her.'' Yolanda has no family; husband and kin have drained her life of freedom and promise. Yolanda is suspicious and puzzled by the friendly overtures of the painter Lazar, a fellow patient. ``Here is Inferno,'' declares Lazar, ``So what remains? A little solidarity, a little love, maybe?'' Lazar draws Yolanda's portraits; she is horrified by what he sees as ``ruins surviving a disaster.'' Throughout, dramas take place in the ward: a pale wraith of a pale life dies of a wasting disease; families warehouse their old and sick; nurses shield themselves, with anger or cold efficiency, from cries and demands that they cannot satisfy. Yolanda, given to heavy makeup and grotesque solo parades, fearing at one point that she has been invaded by ``someone else,'' begins to awaken, to see clearly ``the tragic inhuman beauty of the place.'' But at home in her small apartment again, she knows ``the world around her is emptying out.'' Then a mentally ill neighbor, who loves to see the cats in the courtyard, plunges to her death from her balcony. Yolanda and Lazar will have a final phoned dialogue of love, grief, and a poignant new self- knowledge, and Yolanda, above the courtyard, contemplates the glittering but unredeeming stars. This affecting entry from a new publisher (with send-off blurbs by Philip Roth and Amoz Oz.) plumbs with fevered intensity the ``bewilderment and frustration'' of old age's airless confinement. Read full book review >