Saturday, June 07, 2008

Jonathan Wilson

At the Conference in King's College I've blogged about, a specialist in the pictorial representation of war, Professor Antoine Capet (Rouen) presented us a paper on "Views of Palestine in British art from peacetime to wartime, 1841-1948". Someone in the audience asks why was David Bomberg 's art works not included in the list of slides shown. A third expert, with heavy American accent, gives a hyper-short resume of his life and ends with "his stay in Palestine was fictionalized in Jonathan Wilson's "A Palestine Affair". I made a note to remember to read that book which I happened to have bought at the Bookshop of the American Colony Hotel ( Hi Munzer!) a year ago. (A titillating cover this photograph from 1930, "The Artist" by Franz Fielder).

Thanks to this clue I've dived into a criminal affair I had notr heard before: in 1924 an Ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionist Jew, Jacob de Haan was shot, possibly by the Haganah, in an internal political assassination that brings the fate of Rabin to one's mind.

The book is an specimen of what one could call "Jewish Literature" if you can make a Linneus-like systematic of literary genres. It was in fact short-listed to the 2004 National Jewish Book Award. Googling about the book you may find interesting bonuses. I will help you by pointing directly at where you can read an extended interview with the author. Asked about the character Robert Kirsch, the English Jew who serves in the British Mandate Police, Wilson says:

"As for my proximity to Robert Kirsch, by an odd coincidence he lives (although more than fifty years earlier) in the same apartment that I once rented in Jerusalem. On hot nights we both liked to drag our mattresses outside and sleep on the balcony. Kirsch also experiences a certain ambivalence about both the country of his birth, England, and the country of his current residence, Palestine. When I lived in Jerusalem I certainly felt some identity confusions. All happily resolved, of course, when I became a U.S. citizen. "

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