After reading Returning Lost Loves, @The Source
Israel was curious to know more about its author, Yehoshua Kenaz. So
we telephoned Kenaz in his home in Tel Aviv and asked the 1995 Bialik
Prize winner to tell us about himself and his work. A person who
appears to guard his privacy, his novels are based on a combination of
his life's reality and his imagination. In fact, Kenaz views the
creative process as mysterious.
"I write for the local, Israeli, Hebrew readers. I never care how my
books are interpreted abroad," said Kenaz. In fact, he seems to handle
his international acclaim, as a minor accomplishment at best.
Kenaz was born in Petach Tikva, Israel, in 1937. He studied philosophy
and romance languages at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and French
Literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. Kenaz has won every major literary
prize awarded in Israel, is translated into several European languages
as well as English, and is an avid classical music fan.
Living and writing without a modem, or any other means for Internet
connection, Kenaz seems to maintain a very traditional novelist's life,
simply writing for the sake of writing.
Returning Lost Loves centers on the inhabitants of a Tel Aviv apartment
building whose lives intersect unexpectedly in a bizarre twist of
events. Kenaz said that while the book is very Israeli in the way the
characters relate to one another, their issues and personalities are
"The stories and relationships involve than a local story. The
characters are uniquely Israeli at the core but I do hope and expect
that readers (in other languages) will understand them quite well," said
Black humor and satire run through the story. The characters include
Eyal, an army conscript who defects, and his anguished parents; an old
who is determined to keep the building free of lower class
Sephardic newcomers; Gabi, a lonely single woman
having an affair with Hezi, a
married womanizer who rents a love nest for them in the apartment
complex; Aviram, a bachelor who is very curious about his neighbor Hezi;
and a stroke victim who lives with his caregivers. Each character is
dealing with difficult issues, frustrations and alienations of modern
@The Source Israel asked Kenaz if he thought his characters were
"The characters in the novel are not depressed; they have their
problems, and trouble coping with their problems,"
says Kenaz. "The
stories are the kind of personal issues that are told in novels. The
elderly man is not depressed: he is in a period of his life where he
starts to believe that he is the child of the two Filipino caregivers.
It is a sign of hope as if to be reborn, explains Kenaz.
Kenaz's newest work, Landscape With Three Trees,
a book comprising a novel
and novella, was published in Hebrew in January 2001.