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The Tunnel
Cover of The Tunnel
The Tunnel
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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.

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.

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  • From the cover

    AT THE NEUROLOGIST


    "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?"

    "Seventy-three."

    "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...

About the Author-
  • 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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