Yehoshua Kenaz is recognized both in Israel and abroad as an outstanding novelist. Literary circles and general readership await his every new novel with great anticipation.
Kenaz's outstanding ability to captivate his readers achieves new heights in this novel. With exquisite strokes, Kenaz masterfully arouses feelings of pity, empathy and reconciliation, unfettered by banal sentimentality. Once again Kenaz proves his unfailing ability to unfold an unusual love story, wrapped in mystery and enchantment. A special spell is placed upon the reader, who simultaneously undergoes a gamut of contradictory emotions, including sorrow and humor.
Several plots run in parallel form, sharing common characters. Kenaz skilfully creates a unique structure, in which one plot illuminates the other, coming together in a consummate structure. Basic aspects of human relationships are closely scrutinized; love and passion vie with resentment and violence. All the relationships bear the mark of distortion and disintegration.
The central love story pivots between a beautiful woman past the first flush of youth and her married lover, with whom she meets in a love-nest. Next door resides a miserable bachelor whose love for the woman remains unrequited. In a fit of rage, the bachelor rapes and murders a Filipino cleaning woman who happens to be at the flat. This woman is a central character in a parallel plot; she is the caretaker of an elderly invalid. The old man, who is the father of the lover in the first story, draws his reason for living from the simple Filipino helper and is devastated by her death.
Yet another parallel plot unfolds the story of a bitter old man who lives in the same building and derives bizarre satisfaction from his battle with tenants who illegally built a basement flat. The contractor who built the apartment, which is subsequently flooded, is the hero of another plot centred on the relationship between father and son. The son is an army deserter and the father is torn between love for his son and duty to his country. Reconciliation rules the day, with the father accompanying his son when he decides to turn himself in. The first love story, however, ends in failure, shattering the woman's hopes.
Has the accuracy and compassion, the humor and tragic power that are the hallmark of Kenaz’s work... He gives us a ferocious, precise picture of what a nation can be...each person with his uncertainties, his grief, his frustrations and solitude.
Le Monde des livres
With a prodigious sense of ellipsis, Kenaz’s limpid, precise and rhythmic writing draws us ever closer to lives whose alternately ferocious and generous humanity moves us deeply.
Yehoshua Kenaz portrays the complexity of Israeli life in a masterly way...However, he never psychologizes or even offers us his comments. He simply portrays his protagonists’ behaviour, and lets them speak to each other. Without ever pointing at it, the Israeli-Arab conflict is present in all his novels.
|Title|| ||Returning Old Loves|
|Author’s Last Name|| ||Kenaz|
|Author's First Name|| ||Yehoshua|
|Language(s)|| ||English, German, French, Italian, Dutch, Chinese|
|Publisher (Hebrew)|| ||Am Oved|
|Year of Publication (Hebrew)|| ||1997|
|No. Pages|| ||280 pp.|
|Book title - Hebrew (phonetic)|| ||Machzir Ahavot Kodmot|
|Representation|| ||Represented by ITHL|
English: Vermont, Steerforth, 2001
Italian: Milan, Mondadori, 1999; Florence, Giuntina, 2010
German: Munich, Luchterhand, 2000; pback: Munich, btb, 2002
Dutch: Amsterdam, Arena, 2001
French: Paris, Stock, 2004
Malayalam: Kottayam, DC Books, 2007
Chinese: Shanghai, Shanghai Translation, 2011