evocations of the historic places and the emotional climate
of the Middle East, Whittemore's novels have few peers.
His new book focuses on a group of larger-than-life, almost
mythical characters, who represent an ideal of coexistence
and brotherhood among the region's religious and political
factions. The story of an Israeli who becomes the most
effective double agent in his country's espionage system
is a classic tale of deception, but it is also a parable
of what could occur if the people of those ancient lands
could recognize the ties that unite them and cooperate
to recognize the futility of war. Sent by the legendary
intelligence master Tajar to Damascus in the 1950s,Yossi
assumes a Syrian identity and, in the intervening decades,
sends vital information back to the Israeli high command
under his code name, the Runner. Whittemore has an acute
understanding of the national characteristics of the Israelis,
the Syrians and the Lebanese he knows, too, of the secret
desires that can turn men into idealists and visionaries.
in setting his tale in Jericho, a crossroads throughout
history, he creates metaphorical parallels to the mythical
events of earlier times .... the novel succeeds in illuminating
the psychological landscape of a turbulent part of the
world." Publishers Weekly
JERICHO MOSAIC is the fourth volume of the acclaimed
Jerusalem Quartet by Edward Whittemore, a novelist who
has been called America's "best least-known writer." This new book is the brilliant, long-awaited culmination
and final volume of the quartet, but it is also a completely
independent work of fiction.
JERICHO MOSAIC (March 16, 1987; FPT $16.95) is a complex, visionary
look at the kaleidoscopic, sectarian dualities of the
mideast of beliefs, of wartime and often lifelong sorrows,
and of the intrigues which are ever present, lurking
in unexpected places in desert stillness or noisy bazaar.
Thus, "mosaic" describes perfectly the lives
here: the Jewish double agent, Yossi, living out his
life under cover in Syria; his wife, Anna, who believes
him dead; his mentor, Tajar, close to Anna, yet visiting
Yossi as his boss; Bell, a retired masterspy and rescuer
of Anna from the fires of World War II Egypt, now living
in the placid orange groves of Jericho; and finally
Assaf and Yousef, a Jew and an Arab, but "spiritual
brothers," destined to play out tragedies set in
motion by political forces beyond their control.
These and other
fully-drawn characters make JERICHO MOSAIC more
than mere thriller. It is a spectrum encompassing people
in history - Cairo in the forties, Damascus in the sixties,
Beirut in the seventies. It is a tale reflected in many
mirrors as it pieces together the secret designs of
illusion and reality in the Middle East, where causes
and culture are so intricately woven that the opposite
of the apparent is truth, and where loyalty and love
appear, by turn, both holographic and real.
MOSAIC: A Novel AUTHOR: Edward Whittemore PUBLICATION
DATE: March 16, 1987 PRICE: FPT $16.95 PAGES: 374
in the Jerusalem Quartet are SINAI TAPFSTRY, JERUSALEM
POKER, and NILE SHADOWS.
FOR THE WORK OF EDWARD WHITTEMORE
... presents himself as one of the last, best arguments
against television. He is an author of extraordinary
talents ... The milieu is one which readers of espionage
novels may think themselves familiar, and get it is
totally transformed by the writer's wild humour, his
mystical bent, and his bicameral perception of history
Jim Hougan, reviewing Jerusalem Poker in Harper's
nutty book full of mysteries, truths, untruths, idiot
savants, necrophiliacs, magicians, dwarfs, circus masters,
secret agents and a marvellous recasting of history
in our century."
Jerome Charyn, reviewing Quin's Shanghai Circus in
The New York Times Book Review
is a deceptively lucid stylist. Were his syntax as cluttered
as Pynchon's or as conspicuously grand as Nabokov's
or Fuentes', his virtually ignored recent novel might
have received the attention it deserves."
Anthony Heilbut, reviewing Sinai Tapestry for The
as Pynchon, funnier than Vonnegut."
Barry Hannah, reviewing Quin's Shanghai Circus
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