I’m thrilled to be able to announce that my new novel, ‘Rootless in Zion,’ is now published and available for sale on Amazon, in both ebook and paperback form.
The book stems from an inner journey I have taken over the past year, as I delved into memories, as well as documents and texts, concerning the year 1966, soon after my arrival in Israel.
The narrative consists primarily of accounts of the lives, thoughts, actions and interactions of three students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1966. The three characters – Cynthia from England, Batsheva from the U.S.A. and Brian from Australia – are graduate students in the University’s History Department, each one of them trying to enjoy life and do whatever is necessary to attain a more fulfilling career.
My main reason for writing the book was an attempt to reconstruct life in the divided city of Jerusalem at that time. In 1966 there was a high wall separating the Israeli part from the section then controlled by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The idea of going to the Jordanian part of the city seemed totally alien to those of us who were recent arrivals in Israel. It was, however, customary to take tourists to one of the higher buildings in the Israeli part of the city in order to get a glimpse of the other side. To anyone living in Jerusalem today that idea is astonishing, but that was the situation then, just one year before the Six Day War and the reunification of the city.
Looking back at that period, it seems to have been a time of innocence, when both physical reality and the political scene were circumscribed and parochial. There is something to be said in favour of innocence, of a sense of acceptance of a limited arena in which events take their course. Thus, the issues that concern the three principal characters, as well as the student body as a whole, seem relatively simple and straightforward.
And so the search for academic success, romantic love or financial security are the principal concerns of the protagonists. Nonetheless, society in general is concerned with the pressing political issues of the day, as well as the ethnic divisions within Israeli society at a time when the struggle to absorb and integrate new immigrants was assuming increasing prominence.
And then there are the professors, who play a pivotal role in the lives of the graduate students. Some are more egocentric than others, seeking to ‘publish or perish’ at all costs, while others seem more interested in trying to bed young female students. And finally, there are the Israeli students who interact with the newcomers, using their relations with them for their own personal advantage or in order genuinely to help them. Whether it is in night-clubs or in the library, there are myriad ways in which contact is established between the two groups.
The story twists and turns around the events affecting the three main characters and the steps they take to achieve their various objectives. Why have they come to Israel? Will they ever learn Hebrew? Will Cynthia manage to find love and fend off Professor Zelinger’s advances? Will Batsheva and her husband succeed in their business venture? Will Brian manage to keep his family together?
Read the book and find the answers. The ebook is free to download from Amazon.com on 11th June.
Also available from my website: http://www.shefer-vanson.com