Melanie Markowitz, an American journalist writing for a small, no-pressure, leftleaning magazine, is sent to Israel to report on the state of mind of the Palestinians there. Melanie chooses Nazareth as her base--but immediately she's dunked into a personal quandary: both a Palestinian (vendor Agram) and an Israeli (police intelligence operative Mordecai) become her lovers. The two men are not dissimilar, both of them more than a little comic: vain, strutting, ridiculously over-assured. (Some of their talk is amusingly rendered.) Still, Melanie understands her attraction to them: ""She thought that foreign men, especially those who didn't quite have full grasp of her language, could be the most perfect of beings, as long as they were able to remain unknown to her. . . . It was easier to talk in foreign places in foreign languages because the words aren't entirely real."" And her situation here is juxtaposed with those of two other women: a girlfriend from America who's unhappily married to a Palestinian; and yet another American woman, blithely taking lovers as the spirit moves her. Partly a light collage of women-in-love abroad, then, but also a journalistic attempt to capture the dilemma of Palestinians in Israel (""We are like wives, with no life of our own"")--adding up to an unsettled, unshapely, yet interestingly flavored first novel.