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The Retrospective by [Yehoshua, A. B.]
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The Retrospective Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Length: 354 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Novelist Yehoshua rewards readers patient enough to excavate layers of text and shift tempo. At the bedrock of Israeli filmmaker Yasir Moses, estranged screenwriter Trigano, and their common muse Debdou (Ruth)’s love triangle, we strike inherited imagery’s uniting and dividing powers. In Spain, a laudatory retrospective of early films unfolds at a sluggish pace, promising no dramatic developments yet able to sustain tension. The action rises in Israel when Moses travels back to filming locations: a village on Gaza’s border, his parents’ prominently located Jerusalem house. Risking rocket fire, he seeks reconciliation with Trigano, who haunts him like an amputee’s stump. A priest descended from inquisitors casts struggling Muslim immigrants and rural Spaniards for a once abandoned scene, the screenwriter’s condition for truce. But reimagining art requires echoes and fresh compositions; multiple camera angles are metaphors for differing moral perspectives on this undertaking. Moses the elder must fulfill his student’s belief: Art makes the disgraceful beautiful and the repulsive meaningful. With beautiful wordsmanship, Yehoshua entangles dignity and humiliation, repugnance and rapture, showing us how difficult they become to distinguish. --Cynthia-Marie OBrien


Winner, 2012 Prix Médicis étranger
Winner, 2012 Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger
A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice

"[Yehoshua] achieves an autumnal tone as he ruminates on memory’s slippery hold on life and on art."—The New Yorker

"Yehoshua’s prose penetrated to a level of psychological understanding that moved me deeply. . . [His] stories remind us that Israeli literature rightly joins the literature of those other cultures that have earned the right to make of ordinary lives a metaphor for such soul-destroying weariness."—Vivian Gornick, The Nation

"An ambitious, engrossing, playfully testamentary novel."—Moment

"A pure pleasure. . . Yehoshua's best book in years."—Maariv (Israel)

"Genius. . . In The Retrospective, Yehoshua evokes the complexities of growing old — for men and women, and for a country that is no longer fledgling — and the entrapments of regrets and broken memories that make it hard to part 'from what might have been but was not.'"—Jewish Daily Forward

"Yehoshua is concerned with the inadequacies in our quotidian sense of history, our inability to comprehend its violent grandeur. Though the history he has in mind may be Jewish and Israeli, the final words of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man may apply: 'Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?'"—Robert Pinsky, New York Times Book Review

"The Retrospective is intelligent, sensitive fiction . . . In his inimitable style, Yehoshua crafts a powerful and engaging allegory of modern Israeli Jewish identity. "—Haaretz

"Yehoshua delivers a stunning explanation of the ethics of art. . . A fluid and absorbing novel of ideas; highly recommended."—Library Journal, starred review

"A truly international book, a serious set of reflections about coming to terms with the past—with a surprising ending. . . His recent novels have a wonderful restraint, an increasingly elegiac feel."—Jewish Chronicle

"Yehoshua's intelligent and refined novel. . . about an aging Israeli director reviewing both his films and his life. . . recalls once again Faulkner's famous dictum that 'the past isn't dead. It isn't even past.'"—Kirkus, starred review

"With beautiful wordsmanship, Yehoshua entangles dignity and humiliation, repugnance and rapture, showing us how difficult they become to distinguish."—Booklist

"A compelling meditation on art, memory, love, guilt… A hugely pleasurable read, it shows that in his seventies, A. B. Yehoshua is still producing some of his best work."—Independent (UK)

"Fascinating. . . Beautiful."—Ha'ir (Israel)

"Richly plotted."—Jewish Week

Product Details

  • File Size: 2465 KB
  • Print Length: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (March 5, 2013)
  • Publication Date: March 5, 2013
  • Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #683,231 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Alan A. Elsner VINE VOICE on February 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The highly readable novel begins with a 70-year-old Israeli movie director, Yair Moses, and Ruth, the female star of many of his movies arriving in the Spanish pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela for a retrospective of his work. They settle into the luxurious Parador, tour the cathedral and old city and begin watching the movies which date from the very beginning of the director's career when his partner was the brilliant but volatile screenwriter Shaul Trigano - Ruth's former lover.

The movies, dubbed in Spanish, are all rather surrealistic and mysterious. We learn that Moses and Trigano had a falling out when the director sided with Ruth in changing a crucial climactic scene in a movie, when she was supposed to offer her breast to an old homeless guy to suckle. Ruth refused to go through with the scene, Moses supported her and changed the ending and Trigano broke off relations with both of them and quit the movie business entirely.

Strangely, that very scene is echoed in a reproduction hanging in the hotel room depicting an aged father nursing at the breast of his daughter. We also learn two things: Moses has no more movie roles for Ruth and she herself may be suffering from a mysterious malady, perhaps a fatal disease, for which she refuses to seek treatment or even get tested.

A.B. Yehoshua, unlike his great Israeli contemporaries Amos Oz and David Grossman, does not write primarily about Israel and the dilemmas of the Middle East, even though we get a brief taste of rocket fire from Gaza in the latter pages of this book. Yehoshua's themes are more universal, concerning art, memory, love, loss, aging and death. Nevertheless, this reader struggled to unravel the overarching theme of this book even while enjoying the story and the characters.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Israeli author A. B. Yehoshua's new novel of ideas is surprising and wide-ranging, examining such issues as reality vs. the recreation of reality through art, film and myth; life, as opposed to the afterlife, and whether the afterlife is real or fantasy; the actualities of the past vs. memories of the past; the concept of guilt and whether one can atone; and the many aspects of love - love and death, love and hatred, love and jealousy. The development of these ideas, as revealed through the novel's actions and symbols, also apply to Israel and its political history - the victimization of the Jews by Spain during the Inquisition and by the Germans under the Nazis; the various branches of Judaism with their different interpretations of their obligations; the violence between residents of Gaza and Israel; the growing materialism of its current citizens; and the crassness of Moses himself when the Spanish grant him a prize.

The action begins when famous Israeli director Yair Moses travels to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain for a retrospective of his films. He arrives from Israel with Ruth, an aging actress whom he regards more as a character in his films than as a real person. All the films for the three days of the retrospective are his earliest films, made with the help of a brilliant screenwriter, Shaul Trigano, one of his former students. As the seven films shown at the retrospective are described successively, the reader becomes familiar with their themes, and the dramatic changes between these early films and Moses's most recent films become obvious. A young teacher observes, "In your latest films, the material aspect has assumed supreme importance, and not necessarily out of a new aesthetic. As if you are sanctifying the materialism of the world or succumbing to it.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A. B. Yehoshua is an award winning novelist virtually unknown to American readers. A shame. This is fiction at its best -- illuminating, instructive, moving. This will definitely go down as one of the must reads of the year, which is saying a lot since there already has been a wealth of fine fiction in this relatively short time. Moses is a stand-in for Yehoshua himself, a man in his 70s invited to a historic town in Spain to be honored for his body of work. Unable at first to follow the dubbed prints as they are projected to a worshipful audience who seem to know more about him than he does himself, he finds memories are filling in the blanks and he is able to catch up. But this is no simple narrative. Everything about this book is lush, evocative. From the settings to the plots to the characters. Not a cliche among them. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book, from one of Israel's most lauded writers, is a competently told, well-written novel involving aspects of film, art, symbolism, the fine line between a character in a screenplay, the actor - or in this case, one particular actress - in a film, and that person simply, or not so simply, as a human being and many other threads, including class differences amongst Israelis of the north and south. But the primary theme that comes across to the reader is the schism between an artist (a director, in this case, Yair Moses) in his fiery youth and in his more settled septuagenarian perspective.

The narrative is told entirely from the point of view of the 70 year old Yair Moses, rather obviously Yehoshua's alter ego, starting during his visit to Santiago to witness, a retrospective, unbeknownst to him at first, of his early, experimental films whose screenplays were written by Trigano, a gifted student of his younger days as a teacher whose talent he recognised, but with whom he had a disastrous falling out before Moses himself abandoned the surreal and symbolic and went on to direct highly popular natural, realistic films.

The book indeed reads like a naturalistic, realistic novel, and, as such, doesn't quite grab hold of one the way a more poetic, risk-taking novel - or film - would do. It has a nice, slow pedestrian quality to it with many pages devoted to Moses's gastronomic urges and his afternoon naps. It seems to me that this was obviously the intention. But, for this particular reader, this manner of storytelling robs the book of impassioned interest.
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