A.B. Yehoshua talks with Jonathan Freedland (The Guardian) about his new novel The Retrospective on the opening evening of London's Jewish Book Week 2013. Event details and tickets available here.
An ageing film director, Yair Moses, has been invited to the Spanish pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela to attend a retrospective of his early work. As he and Ruth, his leading actress and former muse, settle into their room at the parador, Moses notices a painting depicting the classical story of an elderly prisoner nursing at the breast of a young woman. For the first time in decades, Moses recalls a similar scene from one of his early films, which led to his dramatic estrangement from his screenwriter, Trigano.
Trigano’s spirit haunts the retrospective, as the director and actress re-live each film. They question artistic decisions and are surprised at how differently each remembers the past, slowly revealing to each other past reasons for decisions taken at the time.
A troubled Moses decides to seek out the elusive Trigano to settle their differences, and to propose a new collaboration. But the reluctant screenwriter demands an outrageous price for this reconciliation: Moses must commit to a deeply disturbing act of atonement. Ultimately, reality and the sublime mingle when Moses has an epiphany, as he nears the end of his quest and the source of his imagination.
Searching, witty and trenchant, this work by an internationally respected and original writer is a meditation on the roots of artistic inspiration, the limits and the truth of memory, and the struggle for artistic creation.
The Retrospective has been awarded the French prizes, Prix Médicis Étranger 2012 and Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger 2012.
Born in Jerusalem in 1936, A.B. Yehoshua is the author of ten novels, a collection of short stories, plays and essays. One of Israel’s top novelists, he has won prizes worldwide and in 2005 was shortlisted in the UK for the first Man Booker International Prize. An outspoken critic of both Israeli and Palestinian policies, A.B. Yehoshua continues to speak and work for peace.