Posts Tagged Israel
I am grateful to my parents for many gifts, but I rank my Catholic education/upbringing and intellectual curiosity as among some of the best. While Evan Howard, the author of The Galilean Secret (released last month), are not of the exact same religion (he is the pastor of the Community Church of Providence [Rhode Island), given that we are both Christians and that he is even more intellectually curious than myself (as well as the owner of a doctorate in theology from Boston University)–well it made for a great interview. In this email interview we discuss his novel–which is described as follows:
“When Karim Musalaha, a Palestinian on the run, seeks refuge in a forgotten cave near Qumran, he discovers a half-buried clay jar that contains a fragile scroll. His quest to discover its origins takes him on a high-speed chase through hostile Jerusalem and West Bank neighborhoods. Caught between his brother’s relentless ambition for martyrdom and the forbidden love of a Jewish woman with ties to the highest levels of the Israeli army, he must choose between honoring his father and betraying him to serve a higher purpose.
The scroll’s message also resonates with Judith of Jerusalem, a first century Jewish woman who, under the cover of darkness, gallops into the desert with the brother of the man she was betrothed to marry. When her allegiance to the burgeoning Zealot revolution pits her against the Roman occupiers and their priestly collaborators, Judith sees the cruelty of war and realizes her mistake. But is it too late for her to escape and find forgiveness? A letter written by a mysterious Galilean rabbi holds the answers, but the Romans have placed a price on his head. Should she risk her life for a rabbi she hardly knows, or risk her soul for a cause and a man whose beliefs she now rejects?
Bound by a letter that spans two millennia, both Karim and Judith will either succumb to hatred, violence and hopelessness, or reveal a wisdom that could save us all.”
I’m grateful to Howard for his valuable time and thoughts, as well as Kelly Hughes for facilitating the interview. Go here to read the first chapter.
Tim O’Shea: Tackling two plots with historical complexities in one book is fairly ambitious. How much revision/aggressive editing was involved in the pursuit of balancing the respective narratives and their unique pacing for both stories?
Evan Howard: The decision to include plots in two different time periods came about unexpectedly. As a first-time novelist I didn’t plan to use this method because of the difficulties involved, but readers of an earlier version of the book (which I had self-published) expressed frustration that I hadn’t resolved what happened to Karim, the Palestinian student who appears in the first chapter, the action of which takes place in the present. Since the rest of the novel happens in the time of Jesus, at first I resisted developing Karim’s story because I thought it would be a very complicated undertaking, but the more I thought about it, the more I saw that having two time periods and multiple plots could make the novel more multi-dimensional and increase its suspense. This process required that I write fifteen new chapters and blend them with the historical material. It took me about seven months to do this and involved a great deal of revising and editing along the way. Once I entered into this process, I found it highly challenging but also a lot of fun—like working on a giant literary jigsaw puzzle. Since there is a lot of action in both stories, the issue of pacing wasn’t a major problem.
Holy Land Hardball, a documentary directed by Erik Kesten and Brett Rapkin, is set to have its Atlanta premiere at the 2009 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival (AJFF) on January 22 and 23. The 84-minute, 2008 film “follows the dubious formation of the Israel Baseball League (IBL) by Larry Baras, a Boston bakery owner with no sports management experience. Stirred to action by a midlife crisis, Baras recruits a diverse collection of executives and ballplayers for the IBL, the first ever professional baseball circuit in the Middle East. The team’s challenging task is to draw Israelis to America’s pastime, a game they’ve gone 5,767 years without.”
It’s an interesting tale, which I was able to watch thank to an AJFF screener, both from a baseball and family sense. It’s got a comical tinge to the project, for example, as the baseball tryouts were being shown the Talking Heads’ song, Road to Nowhere, was played. Throughout the film, you feel like the effort to form theIBL is doomed, whether it was or not. But that aspect of the tale was secondary to me. For me, it’s a story about loss and the importance of family, and in particular father and son dynamics.