- Gail Wilson Kenna
Last Sunday I was a “Woman in Jerusalem,”
sitting before the Chagall windows at Hadassah Hospital.
Today I am resurrecting my blog with some words about A Woman in Jerusalem by A.B. Yehoshua. This respected Israeli author died last summer, which I did not know until my Israeli
friend, Irit, told me this during my recent visit to Israel. For years Irit has given me novels by this finest of writers: The Lover, A Late Divorce, Mr. Mani, Open Heart, A Journey to the End of the Millennium, The Liberated Bride.
Quite by chance in 2006 on Cary Street in Richmond, I saw A. B’s latest novel in a dollar bin in front of the bookstore. When I went inside to pay, the clerk said there was a mistake. The book was new and should not have been outside. I suppose my face showed disappointment. The clerk said I could have it for a dollar. At home I sent e-mail to Irit and told her I had found A Woman in Jerusalem. She wrote back and said the
re was no such novel.” I wrote back, “There must be. I’m staring at A.B’s name on the cover.” It turned out the U.K. and USA changed the original title in Hebrew for the 2006 English translation, otherwise it would have been The Human Resource Manager, and ended up in the Business section of Barnes & Noble.
A.B. Yehoshua has been called Israel’s Faulkner. He said in an interview once, that without As I Lay Dying, he would not have written his 2004 novel. And on Thursday afternoon, February 23rd, the first ever RCC-RILL book club with twelve members will meet to discuss two novels: Faulkner’s from 1930, and Yehoshua’s written over ninety years later. I feel an affinity with this Yehoshua novel. First how I found it, and recently on my return to the USA. What, I ask, were the chances that my seatmate on the return flight from Tel Aviv, would be a former United States citizen, now living in Jerusalem, who before had lived in Chevy Chase, D.C., close to where my daughter lives. That’s not what stunned me. I had in my lap, Yehoshua’s novel, and asked if she had read it. Indeed, she had! In a book club
in Jerusalem, and the leader’s husband, Hillel Halkin, is a translator of Hebrew to English. He had done the translation for A Woman from Jerusalem and sat in on the discussion of the novel. I so loved hearing this. I love these strange occurrences. And I am excited about this book club. Do read William Faulkner’s 1950 Nobel Prize acceptance speech about the poet’s voice as a pillar that helps us endure and prevail.
Next week: The conjunction of two novels and two journeys with a woman in a coffin.