Acclaimed author Nathan Englander has given us a twisty, mesmerizing new novel tracing the events that lead Prisoner Z, a Jewish American spy, to his years-long confinement in a secret location in Israel. Other compelling characters, including the guard, add nuance to this intriguing look at physical and moral boundaries. Recommended By Moses M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
The best work yet from the Pulitzer finalist and best-selling author of For the Relief of Unbearable Urges – a political thriller that unfolds in the highly charged territory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and pivots on the complex relationship between a secret prisoner and his guard.
A prisoner in a secret cell. The guard who has watched over him a dozen years. An American waitress in Paris. A young Palestinian man in Berlin who strikes up an odd friendship with a wealthy Canadian businessman. And The General, Israel’s most controversial leader, who lies dying in a hospital, the only man who knows of the prisoner’s existence.
From these vastly different lives Nathan Englander has woven a powerful, intensely suspenseful portrait of a nation riven by insoluble conflict, even as the lives of its citizens become fatefully and inextricably entwined – a political thriller of the highest order that interrogates the anguished, violent division between Israelis and Palestinians, and dramatizes the immense moral ambiguities haunting both sides. Who is right, who is wrong – who is the guard, who is truly the prisoner?
A tour de force from one of America’s most acclaimed voices in contemporary fiction.
"Equal parts political thriller and tender lamentation, the latest from Englander explores, in swirling, nonlinear fashion, Israeli-Palestinian tensions and moral conflicts… Ultimately, Englander suggests that shared humanity and fleeting moments of kindness between jailer and prisoner, spy and counterspy, hold the potential for hope, even peace." Booklist
"Appealing… Clever, fragmented, pithy… Englander is a wise observer with an empathetic heart." Publishers Weekly
"Nathan Englander’s latest is, as usual, superb: a work of psychological precision and moral force, with an immediacy that captures both timeless human truth as well as the perplexities of the present day." Colson Whitehead
About the Author
Nathan Englander’s short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and numerous anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Englander is the author of the novels The Ministry of Special Cases and Dinner at the Center of the Earth and the story collections What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and For the Relief of Unbearable Urges, which earned him a PEN/Malamud Award and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2012, Englander’s play The Twenty-Seventh Man premiered at The Public Theater, and his translation of New American Haggadah (edited by Jonathan Safran Foer) was published by Little Brown. He also co-translated Etgar Keret’s Suddenly A Knock on the Door published by FSG. He lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and daughter.
Nathan Englander on PowellsBooks.Blog
My new novel is called Dinner at the Center of the Earth
. When I handed in the rough draft, my agent made me a pot of tea, sat me down, and said, “You know, you’ve written a political thriller.” The book definitely, very intentionally, has those elements. It’s kind of a thriller, wrapped in a historical novel, that turns into a love story, and ends up being an allegory...