My novel Isaac and Ishmael attempts to bring to human scale the legends and mythic dimensions of Abraham and Sarah, their sons Isaac and Ishmael, and Isaac and Rebecca’s twin sons Esau and Jacob. Readers will experience the struggles, competition, betrayals and loves of these brothers, fathers and sons caught up in the overarching tension between time and eternity, a place where a new God is coming into being—Yahweh, the uncanny, irascible, mischievous, bargaining God who participated in the life of a new people and compelled them to a new way of being human.
The stormy relationship of Isaac and Ishmael has long passed into a tradition which looks to Isaac as the father of the Jewish people, and Ishmael as the father of the Arab people, particularly in Egypt. Similarly, while Jacob carries on his father’s heritage, becoming the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, his twin brother Esau, the red-haired archer who sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup, is traditionally said to have departed for the North, and populated what would later become Rome. Isaac and Ishmael explores the thorny, complex yet delicate relations between these brothers and fathers, providing a more human understanding of the differences that arise between individuals and peoples, even now as the ancient tensions in the Middle East continue to flare up in modern confrontations and war. Ever present in the story are the strong, subtle and often ambitious women of Biblical legend: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.
I have tried to bring a sense of poetry to my writing in this book, rich in symbolism, in an attempt to mirror the stark realities of a desert life, a people moving with the rhythms of nature—and the sturdy independence of the main characters who hear and yet dare to challenge the authority of a new god who walks with them, speaks to them, and promises a new kind of life in this world.