An Israeli professor and an Arab student join forces in a witty novel that “tells a simple story about a region that complicates all it touches” (The New Yorker).
Yochanan Rivlin, a professor at Haifa University, is a man of boundless and often naïve curiosity. His wife, Hagit, a district judge, is tolerant of almost everything but her husband’s faults and prevarications. Frequent arguments aside, they are a well-adjusted couple with two grown sons. When one of Rivlin’s students—a young Arab bride from a village in the Galilee—is assigned to help with his research in recent Algerian history, a two-pronged mystery develops. As they probe the causes of the bloody Algerian civil war, Rivlin also becomes obsessed with his son’s failed marriage. Rivlin’s search leads to a number of improbable escapades. In this comedy of manners, at once deeply serious and highly entertaining, Yehoshua brilliantly portrays characters from disparate sectors of Israeli life, united above all by a very human desire for, and fear of, the truth in politics and life.