Friday, August 26, 2016

Fictitious Fiction

My letter in today's Jerusalem Post Magazine:

I was surprised that the review of Stewart O'Nan's City of Secrets ("Duplicity and intrigue in Jerusalem", Aug. 12) was taken from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A book that deals with the post-1945 period of the underground struggle for liberation from British rule in Jerusalem, I would think, requires knowledge of that time including what actually happened so that a novel purporting to portray that era could be judged also on how reliable it is.

For example, according to the NYTimes review, the Haganah employs the protagonist as a Jerusalem taxi driver allowing him to deliver "parcels or ferrying bomb-laden saboteurs through the crumbling alleys of midnight Jerusalem." The Hagana never actually operated in Jerusalem then and the sole military anti-British operation by the Palmach in the city was the assassination of Captain W.H. Bruce on October 17, 1946. Incidentally, the Pittsburgh-Gazatte has him as a member of the Irgun while the Boston Globe also has him in the Hagana.  A cell member, judged a traitor, has his cut throat and tongue sliced off.  Could that have happened?  How does he describe the blowing up of the King David Hotel's southern wing?

Especially for a newspaper named the Jerusalem Post, it would have been more self-respectful that a reviewer who is familiar with the period and the place to have reviewed the book.  Even a work of fiction need not be totally historically fictitious. 

The grey-colored sentence was edited out.

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