DRAWING IN THE DUST

Love-crazed 2,500-year-old ghosts prompt a discovery that shakes biblical scholarship to its foundations in Rabbi Klein’s far-fetched but zesty debut.

American archeologist Page Brookstone is burnt out. She’s labored for 12 years in a Jerusalem dig, unearthing jarred infant mummies. Her supervisor, Norris, has been harassing her ever since she rebuffed his drunken pass. So when Palestinian attorney Ibrahim Barakat appeals to her to investigate some scandalous otherworldly goings-on, Page can’t resist. The Barakat bungalow is located in Anata, birthplace of the sixth-century BCE doom-saying prophet Jeremiah. There, Page sees visions in kitchen steam of two figures embracing. Through a gaping hole Ibrahim dug in the living-room floor, she spots an underground chamber, its walls bedecked with frescos depicting Jeremiah’s life. Then, an even more incredible find: the burial crypt of Jeremiah. His bones are intertwined with a smaller skeleton, that of servant maid Anatiya, whose tell-all diary, inscribed on a scroll, turns up nearby. The Israeli government takes charge of the remains while Jewish, Christian and Muslim fundamentalists decry the tomb’s desecration. Soon Norris wrests the project from Page’s hands, forming a consortium to translate Anatiya’s scroll. Page digitally photographs the handmaid’s scroll, uploading it to her laptop. Back in the States, she enlists a female translator friend to render the text before the all-male committee puts its stamp on Anatiya and distorts her message, namely that her irrepressible love transformed even pessimism poster prophet Jeremiah. Will Page find love with Mortichai, a half-Irish Orthodox Jew who’s already engaged and is, in theory at least, opposed to grave robbing, even in the name of science? Will Anatiya finally have her say, countering the overwhelming patriarchal bias of the Bible? Even when narrator Page is at her whiniest, and Anitaya’s journal waxes most anachronistically New-Agey, these questions spur intrigue, though the finale devolves into a standard women-in-jeopardy melodrama.

Flawed but lively.

Pub Date: July 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-9912-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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