One would think from all the brouhaha about the imminent arrival of Y2K that the world had never experienced a change of millennium. In fact, we've been through it all before, as A.B. Yehoshua reminds us in his novel, A Journey to the End of the Millennium. The year is 999 and the protagonist is Ben Attar, a North African Jewish merchant who has, for many years, been in profitable partnership with his nephew Abulafia and a Muslim trader named Abu Lutfi. But when Abulafia marries a German Jew who disapproves of his uncle's two wives, the partnership is suddenly dissolved and Ben Attar finds himself out of business.
Abulafia's repudiation of his uncle sets the stage for Ben Attar's journey into the heart of Europe at the turn of the millennium. Accompanied by a rabbi, both his wives, and Abu Lutfi, our hero sails to Paris, where he hopes to persuade his nephew's wife that his marriage to two women is both legally and morally permissible. Yehoshua's tale is more than just a travelog through the Europe of the 10th century; it is also a meditation on religion, law, and the differences between the European Sephardic tradition and that of the Middle Eastern Ashkenazic Jews--differences that echo the current social and ideological conflicts within Israel today. [via]