In the preface to his latest novel, Norwich 1144 – A Jew’s Tale (Mousehold Press, 256 pages), Bill Albert recalls the encounter that inspired his story:
“I was in a sixteenth century synagogue in Safed, a town 1000 metres above the Sea of Galilee. The rabbi, who looked as if he had been with the building since it was built, asked me where I lived. I told him I lived in Norwich, England. He looked alarmed, and then without missing a beat he turned and spat dryly over his shoulder three times. Having thereby ensured that the Evil Eye was placated, he told me the story of William of Norwich.
“[M]erely the story of an American darling,” Banks’ 2004 novel The Darling (Harper Perennial, 393 pages) ends on September 10, 2001, one day before “a new history” in America begins. The words “merely” and “darling” are strongly ironic, suggesting the “new history,” beginning on the next day, will be even more ominous and horrible than the one recounted by Hannah Musgrave, the novel’s protagonist. She is also known as Dawn Carrington, her adopted pseudonym due to youthful foolishness in abetting the Weathermen revolutionary group in America during the late 1960’s into the 1970’s. Hannah is essentially still on the run, although she will manage to marry a Liberian minister close to President Samuel Doe, plus later be exploited by the CIA in arranging the escape from prison of Charles Taylor. She has been a self-necessitating fugitive, obliging herself with a life of running and hiding, and unaware of herself as also a political tool easily exploited. Continue reading