cover image Friendly Fire

Friendly Fire

Abraham B. Yehoshua, , trans. from the Hebrew by Stuart Schoffman. . Harcourt, $26 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-15-101419-4

Celebrated Israeli novelist Yehoshua (A Woman in Jerusalem ) explores the power of grief and bitterness in a blunt drama studded with political, historical and religious significance. In Tel Aviv, 60-year-old Amotz Ya’ari is separated for a week from his wife Daniela when she flies to Tanzania to mourn her dead sister, Shuli, and visit with brother-in-law Yirmi. Soon after Daniela arrives in Tanzania, where Yirmi works for a team of archeologists at an excavation, it becomes apparent that another death—that of Yirmi and Shuli’s son, an Israeli soldier who was killed by friendly fire seven years before the novel begins—preoccupies the family. Back in Tel Aviv, Amotz, both professionally and personally, shows himself to be a compassionate and deeply moral man—a striking counterpoint to his self-centered wife. The scenes at Yirmi’s dig are lit with hope for Africa’s future, though the narration can be naïve about the continent’s present and tends to caricaturize Daniela. In contrast, Yehoshua’s descriptions of life in Israel are full and revelatory, and his despairing view of entrenched resentments becomes a stirring plea for empathy and rationality. (Nov.)