Wednesday, March 28, 2018


For me, this book was a challenging read, particularly at the beginning.  The narration jumps around between the General (obviously former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon), who is in a vegetative state but whose memories we are witnessing, and Prisoner Z, whom we eventually discover to be a double agent.  How Prisoner Z comes to be caught and incarcerated is the biggest happening in the novel, but he’s hoodwinked just as obviously as he hoodwinks a Palestinian businessman.  For me, he represents sort of an Israeli with a conscience, as the Israeli retaliations are way out of proportion to the Palestinian attacks that motivate those retaliations.  The General is the flipside of that coin, as he seems to have no remorse for the several massacres of civilians that he instigated.  A love story consumes the latter part of the novel, but neither the male character in the relationship nor the relationship itself is very well-developed.  Overall, I thought there were too many things going on in the novel, none of which received sufficient treatment.  Actually, a map of Israel and the surrounding area would have been helpful.  I felt that the author took too much for granted with regard to his readers’ knowledge of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  Since reading the novel, I’ve familiarized myself with the geography a bit and read a little about the tunnel system, but I wish I had boned up on such stuff beforehand.  As for the conflict itself, I just read Philip Roth’s The Counterlife, which I thought was a much better commentary on Israel, and it was published over 30 years ago.  My sense is that not much has really changed.

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