Chicago, Illinois – Aug. 11, 2013 (from PRweb) –
When co-author of these essays, Hal Gershowitz, author of awarding-winning historical novel, “Remember This Dream,” set out to write his second novel, “Heirs of Eden” (http://www.haroldgershowitz.com/) he didn’t anticipate the project would take him half way around the world from his Chicago suburban home, to the tense and sometimes violent Middle East during the first Intifada. He also never expected the book to take as long as it did to complete.
“Authoring a novel is about writing and rewriting, about vision and revision,” Gershowitz says. “A novel isn’t finished until the author is satisfied that the story says what the author intends it to say and does what he or she intends it to do. It took me many months to put the story on paper, but many years to get it right. I put it aside and came back to it many times.”
“If you can, you go where your source material takes you. Because a fair amount of Heirs of Eden takes place in the Middle East, I was eager to talk, face-to-face, with Palestinians and Israelis both in Israel and on the West Bank. And, as was the case with my first novel, I wanted to walk in the footsteps of the leading characters I would be creating,” Gershowitz said.
Gershowitz also arranged meetings with people who had attended Stanford during the years his character, Noah Greenspan, would have been a student there. “The people who met with me in Palo Alto and San Jose were terrific as they described, in wonderful detail, so much of the minutia about life at Stanford a half century ago. I wanted to know where students hung out, where they made out, where they met up with one another and where they went for burgers and pizza.
He speaks respectfully, almost affectionately, of the Israelis he met in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Kibbutz Yad Mordachai, as well as of the Palestinians he met in Jaffa and on the West Bank.
He is especially moved when discussing the time he spent with the late Elias Freij, former Palestinian Mayor of Bethlehem. “It was a very tense time with the Intifada raging, and I was surprised he was willing to meet with me so openly on the West Bank,” Gershowitz recalled. “When I expressed my concern, Freij smiled and said, ‘Why are you surprised? Do you think someone might shoot me?’ Gershowitz returned the smile and simply said, ‘yes, that thought occurred to me.’ After all, Yasser Arafat, in fact, had threatened “ten bullets in the chest” for anyone advocating an end to the Intifada.
Freij replied, “So what. Everyone dies. You might die of a heart attack,” he said, “and I might die for peace. Which is the better way to die?”
Gershowitz also recalls, rather wistfully, his discussions with Teddy Kollek, the late, revered Mayor of Jerusalem. “Teddy so lamented the distrust and tension that prevailed in the Holy Land. He felt strongly that rejectionists on both sides were equally intractable, and equally dangerous.”
Interestingly, Heirs of Eden is not primarily a story about the Middle East or about Israel and the Palestinians. Much of the book takes place in Washington DC, and Palo Alto, California. The story revolves around two families and how political and religious tensions and animosities burden individuals who simply want to live and get on with their lives.
Among the central characters are Noah Greenspan, a young Jewish boy, the son of inner-city corner grocers, and Alexandra Salaman, the daughter Palestinian Christians, who move into the same African-American neighborhood in Washington, DC. But as so often happens in the lives of good and decent people, obstacles beyond their control, define their relationships more than they ever imagined possible.
Alexandra’s family, following the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, move to America and purchase a tiny grocery store a short distance from the Greenspan’s For You Market. Their families confront conflicts on virtually every level…including the reality that Noah and Alexandra are attracted to one another.
Over the ensuing years, their relationship is tested by centuries-old prejudices and animosities that play out on the modern political and cultural landscape. The two families follow the trials and triumphs of their children as they grow into adulthood, their resolve and worldviews repeatedly tested as the conflicts of culture and politics continue to dog them.
Weaving the impact of the conflicts in America and the Middle East into the lives of his characters, Gershowitz’s story takes us from coast to coast in America and half way around the world to Lebanon and Israel. “Heirs of Eden” is a tale of innocence lost amidst the horror of bigotry, terrorism, and violent conflict. The book explores the vicissitudes of history and its powerful impact on the lives of everyday people. It is an intimate and deeply moving portrayal of the conflicts wrought by the crosscurrents of life.
Hal Gershowitz, co-author of the “Of Thee I Sing 1776” essays is a retired businessman, lecturer, former adjunct college instructor, and award-winning author of “Remember This Dream,” a Chicago Tribune bestseller and winner of the 1989 Friends of Literature Award for Fiction. Mr. Gershowitz has been honored with an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Humane Letters from the Catholic Theological Union of North America, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Anti Defamation League.