A deeply political novel that tackles the long history of struggle in Israel.

Hiramic Brotherhood of the Third Temple

A debut work that dramatizes the state of Israel and the plight of the Palestinians.

Hanna’s complex, densely written novel puts a light layer of fiction over what’s essentially an extended history of the modern state of Israel and a condemnation of that country’s government. The book presents readers with characters such as Israeli Antiquities Authority archaeologist Michal Zeldin, who tries to stand against what he calls Israel’s “unethical use of archeology,” reiterating the novel’s frequent claims that Israel has no documented historical claim to any of the territory it occupies; and investigative journalist David Reisner, who’s looking into the titular Hiramic Brotherhood, a secret society within the ranks of Israel’s Masonic community. The Brotherhood seeks to illegally tunnel beneath East Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, in order to build a Third Temple on one of Islam’s holiest sites. Along the way, characters talk about the Illuminati and the Freemasons, and there are tantalizing feints at a thriller-style plot. As the novel goes on, Hanna also details the long, complicated history of the Zionist cause, especially its present form in the 20th century. He takes his readers through two world wars and many other national disruptions. But the book’s main emphasis is on facts, not fiction: Hanna is intent on laying out a case against Israel, against the powerful special interest lobby called the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and against a media which is “serving the interests of the Anglo-Zionist Political Corporate Military Industrial Empire.” Indeed, the book’s final 100 pages comprise detailed accounts of the region from 2009 to 2013. As a result, the thriller elements likely won’t be the reason why readers keep turning pages. They’ll more likely be interested in the book’s dissection of Israeli policies, and what the author sees as a continuous annulment of Palestinian civil rights. Some of the book’s contempt for current politicians and world leaders can be off-puttingly raw (such as a reference to “Barack ‘Uncle Tom’ Obama”). However, the bulk of the book makes a readable argument.

A deeply political novel that tackles the long history of struggle in Israel.

Pub Date: May 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1909425910

Page Count: 504

Publisher: Spiffing Covers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2014

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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