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The Way to the Cats

Yehoshua Kenaz’s savagely comic but essentially moving fifth novel deals with the ravages of old age. Robbed of their mental and physical powers, frail pensioners trapped in an old-age home engage in a pathetic power struggle. The staff expresses its devotion to the patients by nurturing complete dependence and swindling them of their worldly goods.

There is Yolanda Moscovich, who believes the head nurse is trying to kill her; Clara the hunchback; and Lazar Kagan, the artist who paints Yolanda and forces her to confront the loss of her beauty. Their love-hate relationship is fraught with the jealousy and bitterness of people made helpless by isolation and infirmity.

Yolanda leaves the home and returns to her Tel Aviv apartment, only to grapple with appalling loneliness, terror and alienation. She is deeply disturbed by Betty, a mad old woman from across the road, who gives her food to the cats of the title and who accuses Yolanda of being her husband’s mistress. Yolanda finally succumbs to the demands of the masseuse, Adela, and signs away her money.
Every aspect of the life of these old people is depicted with realism in what is considered Kenaz’s most powerful work.

The Way to the Cats was a featured Editors’ Choice in The New York Times.

Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Title The Way to the Cats
Writer's Last Name Kenaz
Writer's First Name Yehoshua
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Am Oved
No. Pages 280pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Ba-Derech El Ha-Chatulim
  • “ A novelist must possess courage and artistry in generous measure to win readers over to a story set in an old-age home, but that's exactly what Israeli novelist Yehoshua Kenaz has done....The Way to the Cats is not an easy book to open. But the reader who makes the effort will be quickly rewarded with an engaging and accomplished novel of surprising tenderness and even a kind of grace.”

    Los Angeles Times
  • “ Using a rarely accomplished integration of story and style, [Kenaz] reveals the harsh terrain of a troubled life, at once perverse, beautiful and penetrating.”

  • “ Though Kenaz has interests in common with Malamud and Appelfeld, he creates a pathos powerfully his own out of the minutiae of grief and loss.”