The Tunnel
Audio Sample

The Tunnel

By:  A. B. Yehoshua

Narrated by:  Rick Zieff

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From the award-winning, internationally acclaimed Israeli author, a suspenseful and poignant story of a family coping with the sudden mental decline of their beloved husband and father—an engineer who they discover is involved in an ominous secret military project

Until recently, Zvi Luria was a healthy man in his seventies, an engineer living in Tel Aviv with his wife, Dina, visiting with their two children whenever possible. Now he is showing signs of early dementia, and his work on the tunnels of the Trans-Israel Highway is no longer possible. To keep his mind sharp, Zvi decides to take a job as the unpaid assistant to Asael Maimoni, a young engineer involved in a secret military project: a road to be built inside the massive Ramon Crater in the northern Negev Desert.

The challenge of the road, however, is compounded by strange circumstances. Living secretly on the proposed route, amid ancient Nabatean ruins, is a Palestinian family under the protection of an enigmatic archaeological preservationist. Zvi rises to the occasion, proposing a tunnel that would not dislodge the family. But when his wife falls sick, circumstances begin to spiral . . .

The Tunnel—wry, wistful, and a tour de force of vital social commentaryis Yehoshua at his finest.

Narrated by Rick Zieff

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  • Format: Audiobook

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780358172253

  • ISBN-10: 035817225X

  • Price: $22.95

  • Publication Date: 08/04/2020

A. B. Yehoshua

A. B. Yehoshua

A. B. YEHOSHUA is the author of numerous novels, including Mr. Mani, Five Seasons, The Liberated Bride, and A Woman in Jerusalem. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages, and he has received many awards worldwide, including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Jewish Book Award. He lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.
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Stuart Schoffman

STUART SCHOFFMAN, a journalist and translator, is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and editor of Havruta: A Journal of Jewish Conversation.
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  • reviews

    A New York Times Editors' Choice 

    A Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, in the Book Club category 


    The Tunnel — translated smoothly from the Hebrew by Stuart Schoffman — is about how one couple copes with the initial news that from now on, everything is going to be different . . . Zvi comes to see, in large measure because of his struggle with dementia, that to exist among people, all people, is to open oneself to the menace but also the glory of human entanglement . . . I found great beauty, not answers, in Zvi’s essential human decency. Rather than retreat inward and hide, he chooses — yes — to live." 

    —Peter Orner, New York Times Book Review 


    "A.B. Yehoshua's fiction seldom collapse into the commonplace. They both honor the contract of realism and underwrite that contract with symbolic layers of meaning. His stories plausibly represent ordinary lives and at the same time astutely allegorize. Yehoshua's latest novel, his 12th, confirms that no living Israeli writer accomplishes that dual feat with as casual a mastery. The Tunnel, flawlessly translated from the Hebrew by Stuart Schoffman, tells a story about memory and mercy." 



    "The Israeli writer A.B. Yehoshua is one of the great writers of the 20th century who has, since his early books The Lover and Mr. Mani, been slowly and steadily creating characters of great depth and humor and vision. A man of sly wit and enormous empathy he is exactly what we need in these troubled times...This new novel is a fabulous portrayal of a long marriage. While it has the serious ballast that is present in all of Yehoshua’s books, it is also a romp that at times reminded me of Britisher Michael Frayn in its appealing zaniness...How [our narrator] maneuvers his way through both old and new tasks reminded me at times of Nabokov’s Pnin (one of my favorite characters in all of literature); here one feels the same ineffable tenderness that is the mark of a truly wonderful writer. Exuberant is the right word, not only for the story’s pile up of characters and events, but also for its prose. It has such precision and joy that I would be remiss if I didn’t praise the translator, Stuart Schoffman...[This is] a novel so intimate and vivid that past and present and future merge in ways that generate surprise and delight." 

    The Arts Fuse 


    "[The Tunnel] is one of Yehoshua's most spryly amusing efforts...A quirky, deeply affecting work by a master storyteller." 

    Kirkus Reviews, STARRED 


    “A warmhearted and subtly provocative novel...The symbolism is potent, and consistent with the politically outspoken Yehoshua’s recent shift away from his prior advocacy for a two-state solution. Yet Yehoshua never allows politics to dominate...The story’s heart lies in poignant domestic moments between Luria and his wife.” 



    "The main achievement of the book is to draw us into the process of mental deterioration through aging and the gnawing anxieties about decline triggered by that process, a subject rarely tackled by novelists. This may sound dire, but Yehoshua’s distinctive gift as a novelist is demonstrated yet again in his ability to turn it into an occasion for absurd comedy as well as for fear." 

    —Robert Alter, Jewish Review of Books 


    "The Tunnel, a novel by venerable Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua, is a gentle fable about aging, marital love and understanding between two peoples in conflict...In Yehoshua's capable hands, what could have been a depressing account of decline instead becomes one that chooses optimism over despair...A tenderhearted story." 

    Shelf Awareness 


    “Tender, slow paced, humorous — but at times also painful — [The Tunnel] is a tale about deep love, memory and identity.” 

    Times of Israel 


    The Tunnel [is] one of [Yehoshua’s] finest achievements…Clear, lean, sharp, carefully sculpted, fully controlled by the sure hand of an expert artist.” 



    "The Tunnel is A.B. Yehoshua at his best.” 

    Yisrael Hayom 


    "Compelling . . . Artfully translated by Stuart Schoffman . . . Yehoshua is attentive to the minutiae of everyday life and the small incidents that, gathered together, make up the tragedy of dementia . . . [The Tunnel is] a fine valedictory note worthy of one of Israel’s finest writers." 


  • excerpts




    “So, let’s summarize,” says the neurologist. 


    “Yes, summarize,” echo the two, quietly. 


    “The complaints aren’t imaginary. There is atrophy in the frontal lobe that indicates mild degeneration.” 


    “Where exactly?” 


    “Here, in the cerebral cortex.” 


    “I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything.” 


    His wife leans toward the scan. 


    “Yes, there’s a dark spot here,” she acknowledges, “but tiny.” 


    “Yes, tiny,” confirms the neurologist, “but it could grow larger.” 


    “Could,” asks the husband, voice trembling, “or likely will?” 


    “Could, and likely will.” 


    “How fast?” 


    “There are no firm rules for pathological development, certainly not in this part of the brain. The pace also depends on you.” 


    “On me? How?” 


    “On your attitude. In other words, how you fight back.” 


    “Fight against my brain? How?” 


    “The spirit versus the brain.” 


    “I always thought they were one and the same.” 


    “Not at all, not at all,” declares the neurologist. “How old are you, sir?” 




    “Not yet,” his wife corrects him, “he’s always pushing it .?.?. closer to the end .?.?.” 


    “That’s not good,” mutters the neurologist. 


    Only now does the patient notice that tucked among the doctor’s curls is a small knitted kippah, which he apparently removed when Luria lay on the examination table, lest it fall on his face. 


    “So take, for example, the names that escape you.” 


    “Mostly first names,” the patient is quick to specify, “last names come easier, but first names fade away when I reach out to touch them.” 


    “So here’s a little battleground. Don’t settle for last names, don’t give up on first names.” 


    “I’m not giving up, but when I try hard to remember them, she always jumps in and beats me to it.” 


    “That’s not good,” the neurologist scolds his wife, “you’re not helping.” 


    “True,” she says, accepting blame, “but sometimes it takes him so long to remember a first name that he forgets why he wanted to know.” 


    “Still, you have to let him fight for his memory on his own, that’s the only way you can help him.” 


    “You’re right, Doctor, I promise.” 


    “Tell me, are you still working?” 


    “Not anymore,” says the patient. “I retired five years ago.” 


    “Retired from what, may I ask?” 


    “The Israel Roads Authority.” 


    “What is that exactly?” 


    “It used to be called the Public Works Department of the Ministry of Transportation. I worked there forty years, planning roads and highways.” 


    “Roads and highways.” The neurologist finds this vaguely amusing. “Where? In the North or the South?” 


    As he considers the proper answer, his wife intervenes: 


    “In the North. Sitting before you, Doctor, is the engineer who planned the two tunnels in the Trans-Israel Highway, Route Six.” 


    Why the tunnels? wonders the husband, these are not his most important achievements. But the neurologist is intrigued. And why not? He’s in no hurry. It’s his last patient of the day, the receptionist has collected the doctor’s fee and gone home, and his apartment is located above the clinic. 


    “I haven’t noticed tunnels on Route Six.” 


    “Because they’re not so long, maybe a couple of hundred meters each.” 


    “Still, I should pay attention, not daydream on the road,” the doctor reprimands himself. “You never know, other road engineers might come to see me.” 


    “They’ll only come if they can’t hide their dementia under the overpass,” says the patient, attempting a joke. 


    The neurologist objects: “Please, why dementia? We’re not there yet. Don’t rush to claim something you don’t understand, and don’t raise unnecessary fears, and above all, don’t get addicted to passivity and fatalism. Retirement is not the end of the road, and so you need to find work in your field, even part-time, private work.” 


    “There is no private work, Doctor. Private individuals don’t build highways or plan roads. Highways are a public affair, and there are others out there now, younger people.” 


    “So how do you spend your time?” 


    “Officially I sit at home. But I also take walks, all over the place. And we go out a lot, theater, music, opera, sometimes lectures. And of course, helping my children, mostly with the grandchildren, I take them around, pick them up, bring them back. And I also do some housework, errands, shopping at the supermarket, the produce market, and sometimes ?—” 


    “He loves going to the produce market,” says his wife, eager to end the recitation. 


    “The market?” The neurologist is taken aback. 


    “Why not?” 


    “By all means, if you know your way around, it’s fine.” 


    “Because I cook.” 


    “Aha, you also cook!” 


    “Actually I mostly chop, mix, reheat leftovers. I’m in charge of making lunch before she gets back from her clinic.” 




    “I’m a pediatrician,” his wife says softly. 


    “Great,” says the doctor, relieved. “In that case, I have a partner.”

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: Audiobook

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780358172253

  • ISBN-10: 035817225X

  • Price: $22.95

  • Publication Date: 08/04/2020