Published February 2002
Length 384 pages
ISBN 9781905559398 (ebook)
Six generations of the Sephardi Mani family are chronicled in this profound and passionate Mediterranean epic, which moves backwards chronologically from the 1980s to the mid-nineteenth century. The story comprises of five conversations, each centring on the fate of a different member of the Mani family, and in each the responses of one person are absent.
On a kibbutz in the Negev in 1982, a student tells her mother about her strange meeting in Jerusalem with Judge Gavriel Mani, the father of her boyfriend whose child she is expecting.
On the occupied island of Crete in 1944, a German soldier relates to his adoptive grandmother his experiences there with the Mani family, whom he hunts down.
In Jerusalem, occupied by the British in 1918, a young Jewish lawyer serving with the British army briefs his commanding officer on the forthcoming trial for treason of the political agitator Yosef Mani.
In a village in southern Poland in 1899, a young doctor reports to his father his experiences at the Third Zionist Congress and his subsequent trip to Jerusalem with his sister, who falls in love with Dr Moshe Mani, an obstetrician.
In Athens, in 1848, Avraham Mani reports to his elderly mentor the intricate tale of his trip to Jerusalem and the death there of his young son.
About A.B. Yehoshua
Born in Jerusalem in 1936, A.B. Yehoshua is the author of eleven 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.
Winner of the Jewish Quarterly - Wingate Prize for Fiction 1993
Winner of the Independent foreign fiction prize for March/April 1993
Winner of US National Jewish Book Award 1993
‘Mr. Mani is conceived on an epic scale as a hymn to the continuity of Jewish life. This formulation sounds pat and sentimental, but Yehoshua’s achievement is the opposite: it always suggests even more complex worlds beyond the vignettes of which the novel is composed.’
Stephen Brook, New Statesman and Society
‘Suffused with sensuous receptiveness to Jerusalem – its coppery light, its pungent smells, its babble of tongues, its vistas crumbling with history – Yehoshua’s minutely researched novel ramifies out from the city to record the rich and wretched elements that have gone into the founding and continuation of the nation whose centre it has once again become.’
Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times
‘Adjectives come racing to mind to describe Mr Mani, for instance “rich, complex, exotic, creative, informative”, but“easy” is one that does not fit. On finishing it, this reader had the reaction that he had to turn back to the beginning in order to grasp more firmly the sources of his admiration…It is extraordinarily skilful to have captured the Jewish mixture of suffering and revival, despair and messianic hope, without in any way spelling out such heavy themes.’
David Pryce-Jones, The Financial Times
‘A.B. Yehoshua has created a historical and psychological universe – nearly biblical in the range and penetration of its enchanting “begats” – with an amazingly real Jerusalem at its centre. It is as if the blood-pulse of this ingeniously inventive novel had somehow fused with the hurtling vision of the generations of Genesis. With Mr. Mani, Yehoshua once again confirms his sovereign artistry; and Hillel Halkin’s translation has a brilliant and spooky life of its own.’
‘The one-sided dialogues not only give this complex novel a much needed simplicity of form but they also engage us. We begin to fill in the missing words until each of us becomes the silent partner. For this is more than just a tale of one eccentric family; it has the relentlessness of the Old Testament, the contentiousness of Job. The Manis not only pass down their sense of guilt, the source of their quixotic and often tragic fate, they ask in each generation what it means to be a Jew: are we not all from the same seed, are we not all “Jews forgetful of being Jews”?’
Wendy Brandmark, The Independent
‘In Yehoshua’s rich, grave fictions, private and public lives cannot be separated; the tale of a flawed individual or disintegrating relationship is simultaneously an emblem for a country in crisis. Literature is history, an event a symbol, writing a way of exploring the world. Yehoshua is a marvellous story teller but also a profoundly political writer, always arguing for uncertain humanism rather than zealous nationalism in a country where everyone lives on the front line.’
Nicci Gerrard, The Observer