THE EXTRAS by Wayne Karlin


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A sensitive (maybe too sensitive) novel about an Arab-Israeli Romeo and Juliet doomed by political intrigue, by the author of Crossover (1983) and Lost Armies (1988). Israeli Jew Ezra Brenner and Israeli Arab Maryam Halim grew up together but haven't seen each other since the war-related deaths of his father and her brother. Reunited when they're both cast as extras in a Biblical epic directed by Ezra's friend Bashir, they're thrown back into a lyrically painful series of conflicting reminiscences--Ezra, trained as an architect, has become a demolitions expert and joined the peace party Breira; Maryam, crippled by her contradictory status as an Israeli Arab and her sense of homelessness, has drifted dangerously close to recruitment by PLO agent Riad Karaman--and forward into a love affair with him. But when Maryam accepts the invitation of Ezra's Breira friend Deddy Gur to a Breira meeting that instantly turns into a political confrontation, and Ezra's uncle is pressed to arrest Maryam, it's clear that the lovers are no more than extras in the reallife Israeli drama being directed by the likes of Riad and Deddy. As Ezra is ""embracing a need to betray love"" by sleeping with Breira colleague Yael Ziegler, Maryam has already flown to Cyprus to return for a terrorist mission that will climax in her betrayal by the PLO. Ezra finds her, nurses her, and arranges her escape to Jordan with Bashir's help, but even he knows better than to expect a happy ending. Unoriginal and sometimes overwritten, but fiercely, delicately faithful to the complexities of its lovers and the political nightmare that does them in.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1989
Publisher: Henry Holt