The stereotypes of the different kinds of Jew who make up the state of Israel are relatively well known. In his engaging new novel, Five Seasons, Israeli author A. B. Yehoshua fails to enlarge our conception of these types, but he does use their standard traits to good novelistic advantage.

The hero of Five Seasons is Molkho (first name undisclosed), a Sephardic Jew whose wife—a German Jew who civilized her earthy, Levantine husband by inculcating in him such habits as taking a shower daily and attending the opera—has just breathed her last. She had been dying of cancer for the last seven years and Molkho, an accountant for the Israeli government, had been caring for her in their apartment in the port city of Haifa. Molkho’s wife has died painfully but at home, as she wanted.

Molkho was a patient, loving husband and...


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