By Yehoshua A.B (Author)

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Zvi Luria, a 72-year-old retired road engineer, begins to forget personal names and suffer from additional memory failures and confusions. In order to slightly delay the development of his insanity, his wife, on the advice of the neurologist, arranges for him a job in his profession, accompanying as an unpaid assistant to a young engineer who is planning a secret military road in Makhtes Ramon. His wanderings in Tel Aviv and the Negev are a colorful and witty comedy of situations, in which Yehoshua's inexhaustible imagination evokes an extraordinary joy of reading. For Luria, instead of mourning his deterioration, amusedly celebrates the ever-increasing changes in his personality. His gnawing mind, his loosening identity, his easy madness that turns out to be a liberating and creative factor, he is filled with courage and joyful freedom, to such an extent that his condition sometimes seems like a kind of trick he invented for his own benefit and pleasure. The man who was previously alienated from his colleagues and emotionally numb is experiencing a transformation towards sentimentality and paternal feelings, and his new human curiosity produces from him empathy and compassion, sometimes out of proportion. As he walks around, he is drawn to a multitude of figures that seem to be his metaphors, figures with hybrid identities, figures lost between identities, or those whose one identity has been erased and yet to form another identity. The highlight of the secret road design is an obsessive idea to carve an absurd tunnel in a double-humped hill to avoid crumbling it. On its summit are hidden "stayers without identity" - a father, daughter and son, Palestinians fleeing their identity after getting into trouble with both the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis. The daughter Ayala (formerly Hanadi) becomes the focus of denied passion and of Luria's consequences. The loose, slightly promiscuous climate it fosters is embodied in an abundance of mergers and multiplications. Luria, who walks around with two mobile phones and pretends to see two suns in the Ramon Crater and imagines a situation of two women for a man and two men for a girl, also merges in his fantasy more and more women with his wife who he has been close to in symbiotic relationship for nearly fifty years. His madness began to sprout in his mind, he felt, years ago, when he fled in a fit of passion from what he thought was an attempted seduction by a strange woman in a chaotic room. And the desire for this woman he now attaches to his desire for his wife. Only at the end, after he has lost his first name, and close to the symbolic erasure of his personality, it is urgent for him to ask himself what the tunnel symbolizes to him and where it is leading him. In his situation, he is no longer able to be aware of the erotic and political implications of the tunnel, which only his idiot was able to conceive and convince that it is possible and essential. Joshua builds these implications with the richness of the echoes in a novel that strives against the tyranny of identity, which with all its delightful lightness is one of the boldest and most profound of his books.

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