Book Review

02Mar11

Like Sherwood Anderson’s Youngstown, Ohio, Michael T. Darkow’s Our Promised Land is told in episodes, which retain common characters but shift focus among multiple settings, plot lines, and time periods. Unlike Anderson’s classic work, however, Darkow’s novel is not a coming of age tale but rather a study of human helplessness in the face of violence fueled by an ancient hate.

Set mainly in modern-day Israel and Palestine, Our Promised Land delves into Jewish history as well as Islamic history to explore its ancient themes. The book focuses on three main characters: the two protagonists, Ellie and Yathrib, and a shadowy antagonist, Fatahd. Ellie is an Israeli, a Holocaust survivor who later smuggled himself into Israel rather than face further anti-Semitism in Europe. Yathrib is a Palestinian, immigrating to America to study mathematics after Israeli expansion forces his family off the land they have occupied for centuries. Meanwhile, Fatahd, the book’s villain, is not so much hateful as maddeningly obscure.

The author’s choice of a non-ironic deus ex machina climax seems to indicate that the Israeli-Palestinian crisis rests on a history of hatred and violence.

Read more at Suite101: Book Review: Michael T. Darkow, Our Promised Land http://www.suite101.com/content/book-review-michael-t-darkow-our-promised-land-a345895#ixzz1FUGiPcIQ

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