This book, published (in Hebrew) by The New Library in 2018, was recommended to me by someone whose opinion I value. But it turned out to be a great disappointment. The only thing I can say in its favour is that the tunnel of the book’s title is both a physical entity and a metaphor for the chief protagonist’s declining mental faculties. That in itself is a clever and fascinating concept. It’s a pity the book doesn’t live up to the potential implicit in this idea.

Other writers, notably Emma Healey in ‘Elizabeth is Missing,’ have tried to describe the interior workings of the brain of someone whose cognitive faculties are deteriorating, and in that particular case I found the account both fascinating and insightful.

However, Avraham B. Yehoshua succeeds only in taking the reader through what seems to be an interminable series of banal thoughts, conversations and interactions of someone who is of very  little intrinsic interest. The overriding sense of boredom I experienced while ploughing through this book left me completely indifferent to the fate of the main character. His thoughts and conversations are tedious and trivial, and the few characters with whom he has any interaction seem to be flat and stereotypical. There are no moments of illumination, no insights into internal processes or motivation, and nothing that aroused my interest in what would happen next. I kept on reading because, as a writer myself, I feel obliged to finish a book once I’ve begun, and am always hoping that things will improve. In this instance, however, they did not.

The fact that the author puts the same nasty comments about women drivers in the mouths of two different male characters in different parts of the book did not endear the writing to me either. The editor should have spotted that and cut out one of those diatribes (if not both).

Although the book does pick up a little towards the end, with some interesting encounters and situations, as well as a completely atypical and unexpected (and also unconvincing) course of action undertaken by the main character, Zvi Luria, the effort of reading the book did not make this worthwhile. In fact the ultimate conclusion of the book is unsatisfactory and elliptical to the point of being annoying.

 

Advertisements