Abraham "Buli" (A. B.) Yehoshua, one of Israel's most critically acclaimed modern writers and defender of Palestinian rights, died Tuesday at the age of 85 from cancer, a Tel Aviv hospital said. . The author, born in Jerusalem in 1936, gained international prestige with his prolific work, translated into some 30 languages and adapted for film, theater and television.
He made his debut in 1962 with The Death of the Old Man, while his most recent novel is The Third Temple, published earlier this year. Other of his best-known works are The Lover (Duomo, 2013), originally published in Hebrew in 1977; Journey to the end of the millennium (Siruela, 1999), A late divorce (Alfaguara, 1984) or The tunnel (Duomo, 2021). He received, among other literary prizes, the Israel Prize for Letters, in 1995, and the Médicis de France, in 2012.
The novelist was also a leading figure on the Israeli anti-occupation left, founding and joining the peace NGO B'Tselem and identifying with the liberal Meretz party. Throughout his career, Yehoshua explored Jewish national identity and advocated secular Zionism as a solution to the conflict, occasionally upsetting foreign or ultra-religious Jews. Likewise, he joined the authors Amoz Oz (1939-2018) and David Grossman in calling for a negotiated solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, which would lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
The president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, has assured that the writer is "one of the great writers and narrators of the state of Israel" whose "unforgettable creations will continue to accompany us for generations". "He stirred within us a mosaic of deep feelings," added Herzog.
For her part, Tamar Zandberg, a government minister from the moderate Meretz party, wrote on Twitter that Yehoshua “also took on the important moral role of upholding peace and justice.”