Joshua Then and Now
is a semi-autobiographical novel
An autobiographical novel is a form of novel using autofiction techniques, or the merging of autobiographical and fiction elements. The literary technique is distinguished from an autobiography or memoir by the stipulation of being fiction...
written by Mordecai Richler
Mordecai Richler, CC was a Canadian Jewish author, screenwriter and essayist. A leading critic called him "the great shining star of his Canadian literary generation" and a pivotal figure in the country's history. His best known works are The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Barney's Version,...
, first published in 1980 by McClelland and Stewart
McClelland & Stewart Limited is a Canadian publishing company. It is partially owned by Random House of Canada, now a subsidiary of Bertelsmann....
. Richler adapted it into the feature film Joshua Then and Now
Joshua Then and Now is a 1985 film and a TV mini-series, adapted by Mordecai Richler from his semi-autobiographical novel Joshua Then and Now. James Woods starred as the adult Joshua, Gabrielle Lazure as his wife, and Alan Arkin as Joshua's father...
, starring James Woods
James Howard Woods is an American film, stage and television actor. Woods is known for starring in critically acclaimed films such as Once Upon a Time in America, Salvador, Nixon, Ghosts of Mississippi, Casino, and in the television legal drama Shark. He has won three Emmy Awards, and has gained...
, Alan Arkin
Alan Wolf Arkin is an American actor, director, musician and singer. He is known for starring in such films as Wait Until Dark, The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Catch-22, The In-Laws, Edward Scissorhands, Glengarry Glen Ross, Marley & Me, and...
, and Gabrielle Lazure; directed by Ted Kotcheff
Ted Kotcheff , sometimes credited as William Kotcheff or William T. Kotcheff, is a Canadian film and television director, who is well known for his work on several high-profile British television productions and as a director of films such as First Blood.-Early life:Kotcheff was born William...
who had previously directed Richler's The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
The book is a humorous, sarcastic, and strangely sentimental rendering based on his neighborhoood when he was growing up in Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
and then the triumphs and disasters of a successful writer. Joseph Heller
Joseph Heller was a US satirical novelist, short story writer, and playwright. His best known work is Catch-22, a novel about US servicemen during World War II...
described it as "wildly funny".
Joshua Shapiro, successful writer and pundit, lying in a hospital room, seems to have lost his wife and is in the middle of a sex scandal. Compelled to find meaning in his life, he reviews it from his youth to the present day.
Joshua grew up as a Jew in the working class St. Urbain Street area in Montreal. His upbringing was unusual because his father was a boxer who had become a gentle crook and his mother was a strip-tease dancer. Embarrassingly, she strips for his friends as part of a Bar Mitzvah party for him. Joshua's father is revealed to have a unique perspective on life, sex, and religion.
A trip to Spain as a young man is the impetus that sparks a career as a journalist and writer. In England in a momentary lapse of reason, Joshua forges letters about a (fake) homosexual affair with a British writer to sell to an American university archive. He meets an upper-class Canadian married to a poser of a communist and steals her away to become his own wife. She is the daughter of a Canadian senator and Joshua's key into a level of society of which he is quite contemptuous.
In the meantime, Joshua's childhood friends have become successful in their own right. They soon become targets of pranks as he settles various scores.
Joshua's conceited brother-in-law assumes a pivotal role in the novel as it is revealed that he is insecure and vulnerable. Neighbors in the wealthy cottage community around Lake Memphremagog lead him astray with dreadful consequences. Past indiscretions rear their ugly heads and Joshua must put together the shambles of his life.
- McClelland & Stewart, 1980, hardcover, ISBN 0-7710-7492-1
- Knopf, 1980, first edition, hardcover, 435 pg., ISBN 0-394-49351-6
- paperback editions: Bantam 1981, Granada 1982, Bantam Canada 1985, Penguin USA 1991, McLelland & Stewart 1991, Emblem 2001, Buchet-Chastel 2004.http://www.librarything.com/work/323382
- New Canadian Library (McClelland & Stewart), 1989, 441 p. ISBN 0-7710-9864-2
- Joshua au passé, au présent. Translated by Paule Noyart. Montréal: Les Quinze, 1989. 537 p., ISBN 2-89026-386-X