The best work yet from the Pulitzer finalist and best-selling author of For the Relief of Unbearable Urges --a political thriller that unfolds in the highly charged territory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pivots on the complex relationship between a secret prisoner and his guard.
A prisoner in a secret cell. The guard who has watched over him a dozen years. An American waitress in Paris. A young Palestinian man in Berlin who strikes up an odd friendship with a wealthy Canadian businessman. And The General, Israel's most controversial leader, who lies dying in a hospital, the only man who knows of the prisoner's existence.
From these vastly different lives Nathan Englander has woven a powerful, intensely suspenseful portrait of a nation riven by insoluble conflict, even as the lives of its citizens become fatefully and inextricably entwined--a political thriller of the highest order that interrogates the anguished, violent division between Israelis and Palestinians, and dramatizes the immense moral ambiguities haunting both sides. Who is right, who is wrong--who is the guard, who is truly the prisoner?
A tour de force from one of America's most acclaimed voices in contemporary fiction.
"Equal parts political thriller and tender lamentation, the latest from Englander (What We Talk about When We Talk about Anne Frank, 2012) explores, in swirling, nonlinear fashion, Israeli-Palestinian tensions and moral conflicts. The General, who is never named but is clearly former prime minister Ariel Sharon, lies in a coma, his thoughts hovering over past glories and a horrifying gunshot. By his side is Ruthi, his devoted assistant, whose pot-smoking, TV-obsessed son has found a plum job guarding the disappeared Prisoner Z in a secret prison in the Negev. An American spy who in a moment of either moral courage or traitorous intent turned against his Israeli backers, Z was on the run in Europe but tripped up when he fell in love with a fearless waitress from an ultrawealthy Italian family. Discerning the connections between these narratives provides much of the drama, which turns on the logic of human weakness and intractable opposition. Ultimately, Englander suggests that shared humanity and fleeting moments of kindness between jailer and prisoner, spy and counterspy, hold the potential for hope, even peace.--Driscoll, Brendan Copyright 2017 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
""It's Israel. We let murderers come home on weekends." This is what a young man, known only as "the guard," initially tells his mother, hoping to resist her plans that he take work in a prison. He is certain there's no moral high ground to be found, even on what she calls the "right" side of the bars. Plagued by the moral failings of the country, the guard wanted to leave Israel altogether. Instead, he takes the job and becomes both complicit in those failings-making him the most complex, human, and strangely appealing character in Englander's clever, fragmented, pithy new spy novel. On the other side of the bars from the guard is "Prisoner Z," whose story is pieced together over the course of the book. An American Jew who polished his Zionist idealism in the cafeteria of Hebrew University, Prisoner Z threw himself into the murky workings of "intelligence" because he'd been "afraid peace would start without him." Except then he got in over his head, and the violence and anger rapidly spread in every direction, eventually ensnaring him. With chapters that toggle back and forth in time and in location, the narrative begins on the Israeli side of the Gaza border in 2014, before jumping to Paris and Berlin in 2002, a hospital near Tel Aviv in 2014, the Negev Desert, and back again. Englander (What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank) is a wise observer with an empathetic heart. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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