A veteran of the Israel Defense Forces incorporates his experiences into a brooding military battlefront saga set in wartime Israel.
Bloomfield’s dense, impressive debut opens with a rush of excitement as Bahaa, a soldier on Palestine’s Gaza Strip, flees from Zionist troops but is shot dead, leaving his secret love, an Islamic University history teacher, pregnant with his son. The brawny life of Bahaa’s offspring, christened Anid al-Husseini, forms the grainy crux of the novel, which revolves around an imagined nuclear war between Israel and Iran. As a teenager, joined by best friend Luty, Anid joins the Hamas Islamic resistance movement. Both receive commendations for their bravery and resolve in the face of mortal danger and these attributes carry the men through their college years until Anid is ordered into hiding, just as he becomes smitten with the beautiful Amjad. Meanwhile, young Maj. Gen. Yigal Navon, head of Israeli intelligence, braces for news that Iran has beefed up its nuclear arsenal of ballistic missiles aimed at Israel. A host of soldiers are called into active duty as civilians panic, and Anid’s resilience is tested while on the run through a succession of kidnappings, a ghost from his past and a reunion with Luty and Amjad. The Muslim army’s Operation Judgment Day is set in motion, ensuring the massacre of Jews throughout the region, but Luty seems conflicted about his intentions and puts Anid in danger as Navon, now prime minister, continues to navigate the strife with strategic projects. The author handles the rush and urgency of his war-torn setting well as a dizzying surfeit of surface characters emerge, each ushering along the two-sided battle plan that, while relentlessly violent and stark, is also engagingly complex. His imaginings about an Israelite uprising resonate with harrowing realness and the novel’s unique coda, however heavy-handed, offers postscripts and expansions of his story through pointed conjecture.
Military fiction buffs will find much to savor in this dark novel, rife with chilling authenticity.