New novel dwells on Jerusalem’s dark side
From its outset, the novel is shrouded in a cloud of ominous darkness. The Jerusalem of the author’s imagination is a divided city in which characters are still coming to terms with the holocaust, trying to rebuild shattered lives at a time when life itself is a collection of fragments.
In the wake of the Nuremberg Trials, Adolf Eichmann is about to be tried, a topic relevant to a number of the characters. With chapters including Ruin and God is Dead, this is a narrative of broken individuals, damaged lives, and an ever-present sense of brooding darkness.
An embodiment of this theme is Ada. Perpetually dressed in black, carrying a haze of smoke in her wake, she tries to piece together the lives of her family, refugees who fled Vienna.
Ada’s world is pieced together from an array of different shards. There are the fragments of different languages, snatches of German, French, Spanish, and Yiddish spoken in a place of protean identity. The landscape is ruinous, covered in chipped stones, and eroded inscriptions. A setting worthy of TS Elliot, this is almost a wasteland, whose fragments may yet be used by its people to prevent their ruin.
Taking its title from a production one of the characters wants to put on, the novel makes use of Noah’s flood in an unusual way, overwhelming readers with gushing torrents of personal stories and narratives of trauma. Readers who are looking to see the dark side of life after tragedy, to share the burden of individuals striving to gather the fragments of their lives in an unfeeling world, and explore a Jerusalem unlike the one they know will certainly find what they’re looking for in this novel.