cover image Five Seasons

Five Seasons

Abraham B. Yehoshua. Doubleday Books, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-385-23130-5

If not as kinetic and intricate as A Late Divorce , the author's daring treatment of nine frenzied days in the life of a troubled Israeli family, Yehoshua's latest novel reconfirms his status as a shrewd analyst of domestic ordeals. Neatly and leisurely divided into ``five seasons'' following the death of the protagonist's wife of 30 years, this is a genuine and elegant portrait of a widower, Molkho, a middle-aged Sephardi, like his creator, and his heartfelt grief and painfully awkward readjustment to life as a single person. A passive, frugal civil servant obsessed with bodily functions and malfunctions, who diligently and celibately cared for his wife through a long illness, Molkho is a straight man, vulnerably ripe for absurd romantic entanglements. He is variously infatuated with or fancied by the barren, fey cast-off wife of a ``born-again'' Orthodox Jew; an aggressive lawyer, who is senior to him on the bureaucratic ladder; an Indian girl in a development town; and a Russian emigre Molkho helps to repatriate. Although much here is universally applicable, Yehoshua continues to advance his vision of Israel as the necessary, if chaotic and problematic, receptacle of the scattered remnants of world Jewry. (Jan.)