Zoe Klein Drawing in the Dust: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9781400163441

Drawing in the Dust: A Novel

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9781400163441: Drawing in the Dust: A Novel

Brilliant archaeologist Page Brookstone is convinced bones speak, yet none of the ancient remnants she has unearthed during her twelve years of toiling at Israel's storied battlegrounds of Megiddo has delivered the life-altering message she so craves. Which is why the story of Ibrahim and Aisha Barakat, a young Arab couple who implore Page to excavate the grounds beneath their house in Anatot, instantly intrigues her. The Barakats claim the ghosts of two lovers haunt their home, overwhelming everyone who enters with love and desire. Ignoring the scorn of her peers, Page investigates the site, where she is seduced by an undeniable force. Once Ibrahim presents Page with hard evidence of a cistern beneath his living room, she has no choice but to uncover the secret of the spirits. It is not long before Page makes miraculous discoveries-the bones of the deeply troubled prophet Jeremiah locked in an eternal embrace with a mysterious woman named Anatiya. Buried with the entwined skeletons is a collection of Anatiya's scrolls, whose mystical words challenge centuries-old interpretations of the prophet's story and create a worldwide fervor that threatens to silence the truth about the lovers forever. Caught in a forbidden romance of her own, and under constant siege from religious zealots and ruthless critics, Page risks her life and professional reputation to deliver Anatiya's passionate message to the world. In doing so, she discovers that to preserve her future in the land of the living, she must shake off the dust of the dead and let go of her own painful past. As poignant and thought-provoking as the beloved bestsellers The Red Tent and People of the Book, ZoŽ Klein's historically rich debut novel is a lyrical and unexpected journey that will stay with listeners forever.

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About the Author:

ZoŽ Klein, the senior rabbi of a large congregation, has written for Harper's Bazaar, Glamour, and Tikkun, as well as for a number of collections, including The Women's Torah Commentary.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

I

There is no blemish on the glow which surrounds you like a metal shield. But what good is a shield if the hurt is inside?...O Lord, let his heart break and begin to heal rather than this perpetual and terrible swell!
-- The Scroll of Anatiya 4:42-47

I always wake before sunrise, at least two hours before any of my three housemates. I sit up in bed and stretch, kick off my covers. The polished limestone floor is cold, sending a shiver from my feet all the way up my spine, and it delights me. The light sifting through the window is soft and inviting, as if the house floats inside a lavender cloud. I pull on shorts, a tank top, and slide my white bandana over my hair. I lather my face, arms, legs with sun lotion. The air has the chill of white wine. I've seen sunlamps for people with seasonal depression, so that in the long, dark winters when their sadness peaks, they can replicate bright days and feel healed. I'd rather retire to a room with a gentle moonlamp, whirring metal fan, and dewy humidifier. I pull on my socks, my sneakers.

I patter down the hall. The door to our supervisor Norris's suite is ajar. He always sleeps with it a little open, as if tempting someone to come in. I can see his jeans and belt hanging over the back of his desk chair as I pass by. A picture of Mickey and Orna on their wedding day hangs on their closed door. In the picture Mickey is wearing a light brown suit and lopsided bow tie that look like they and the groom had just arrived in Israel off a boat from Russia, which isn't too far from the truth. He is bending his voluptuous sabra bride, Orna, a little bit backward, her raven black hair wild with curls, and resting his head just above her cleavage. Mickey always said he fell in love with her because she had "the ripest breasts in the Fertile Crescent...and a heart to match." A wooden plaque hangs from their doorknob reading in Hebrew birkat habayit, "blessing of the home."

I am the house ghost, in a way, spooking my way through the living room. Norris's leather chair, so out of place in a room of institutional-style furniture, is opened in a reclining position with a thin blanket spread over the arm and a rummaged newspaper at its feet. I can imagine him sitting here, as he often does late at night, drinking tea and watching reruns of Baywatch on Lebanese television. In the kitchen I drink a glass of grapefruit juice. I make a sandwich, roasted eggplant and turkey tucked into pita, and take a canteen of ice out of the freezer, pack them in my knapsack along with my tools, and head to the door.

There is a note pinned to the door that reads, "P -- Dinner with Jerrold March tonight at 8. Prepare to present on shaft tombs. -- N." I feel a tide of fury rise in me, not at the idea of dinner with Mr. March, one of our most generous sponsors. I've met with him many times whenever I've returned to New York, and he is always a perfect gentleman from the tip of his mustache to his deftness with a salad fork, harmlessly flirtatious after a few glasses of wine. It is easy to melt into his luxurious world, and fun to bring him into the world he funds, my dirty world of chamber pots and ceramic coffins. I'm not angry even at Norris's directive, although I already knew about dinner. I already have sketches to show Jerrold of official seals, basins, statuettes, and ivories, maps indicating where we'd found the three thousand infant burial jars. Norris knows I'm always prepared. We have been working here together for more than a decade. It is that the note is written on the back of the title page of my last book, an act obviously intended to upset me. The page had been crumpled in his most recent fit, and then, I suppose, he smoothed it out to use it as scratch paper. To let me know how little he thinks of it, or me.

It's not worth spending the most beautiful time of the day fuming over him. He's been playing these games for so many months I'm practically numb to them. When I step outside, closing the door softly behind me, my anger dissolves in the wet, clean, and shimmering air. I love the early morning. Pine trees cast long shadows across the road and clouds stained deep grape and plum are strewn messily over the horizon, as if someone hadn't yet cleaned up the table linens after a giant party.

It is a two-mile walk to the tell. Every working morning I take this walk, leaving my old white Mazda in the driveway like a beached baby beluga. The air is tinged with rosemary, mint, and diesel. I try to drink in the coolness as I walk, knowing the sun will soon sizzle it all to chalk. There is a mist of sparkles over my clothes and my skin. The little hairs on my arms have been alchemized by the sun to fine gold. My naturally pale skin is gilded by exposure, despite my devotion to applying and reapplying lotion. I feel lean and able striding up the road, my mind clear. I enjoy the long stride of my body every morning before settling into a day of crouching in dirt.

The Judean Hills lie languid over the horizon and birds are winging between the pines. There is a Bedouin woman pulling up herbs down a stony slope. She is swathed in a long black robe, chanting in Arabic:

Fear not if you wander the barley fields after there has been a good rain
And you find an old lover who was slain long ago has risen to meet you again.

I can see the museum at the bottom of the hill. I've been working in Megiddo for twelve years, in the heart of the Jezreel Valley in the north of Israel. Every year nearly four million tourists visit this very place. It is an extraordinary site. Megiddo is a hill that spans about fifteen acres, made up of thirty cities built one on top of the other over six millennia, beginning with the prepottery Neolithic period nine thousand years ago.

The wrestlings of my own heart should be overshadowed in this valley of death. At least thirty-four nations have battled in this place, with enormous slaughters. This is where Pharaoh Thutmose III fought the first battle known in recorded history anywhere in the world. The author of the Book of Revelation predicted that in the end of days, the battle between good and evil will ultimately take place here. In fact, the word Armageddon is a corruption of the Hebrew phrase Har Megiddo, Mount of Megiddo.

Modern Israel is no stranger to conflict, and one doesn't have to dig to remember. Every weapon created has been wielded here, and the newest generations, biological and nuclear, hang like Damocles's sword over the young nation. To stay ahead, defense systems scurry to evolve from the technology of tunnels and walls. I've spent my career here underground with the ancients, without emerging much into today's headlines. I've been less interested in the political and religious conflict of any century and more interested in personal practice, mostly studying Middle Bronze Age mortuary practices.

In the past, countless have lived, thrived, and then bled here until they became bone. Today, millions come to visit, including historic visits; the first visit of a pope to Israel took place here in Megiddo. Two hundred professionals dig here every working day. Norris directs them all, and I supervise twenty archaeologists and volunteers concentrating on the temples of stratum XV and the elaborate shaft tombs.

But each morning, like this one, there is just me. The generations below me are silent, and the tour buses have not yet rumbled in. In the half light, the site is empty. I cross the museum parking lot and begin to climb the tell. The land is perfectly still and mute, guarding its deep treasures of seedlings, cemeteries, and secret gardens. When I dig my callused hands into the cool, predawn earth, I feel all of her richness tingle through my skin. Before dawn the land always seems to yield, hinting that, with just the right touch, everything dormant in her might awaken, push through its black chambers, and Ezekiel's field of bones would drink the moist sky.

I walk through the remains of Solomon's stables, the rows of dark cold arches. I imagine the din of whinnying and neighing echoing through the ancient hall. Sparse, thorny grasses and sharp foliage poke through the stones.

As I emerge from the maze of stables, the horizon wears a crown. The sun is just rising. I kneel beside my most recent project, the three thousand and seventy-second infant burial jar we've unearthed. I put down my knapsack and unroll my pack of tools: a small pickax, a toothbrush, variously sized paintbrushes, and fine dental tools. The jar is shaped like a womb, the corpse inside curled toward the entry. How disappointing for them to be delivered not by some messiah to life everlasting but by me, to a mention in my field notes. I begin to gently dust the rim of the jar, thinking.

It is hard for me to believe that I am thirty-nine years old. Looking at the swollen shape of the jar, I involuntarily draw my hand over my stomach. I used to wonder what it would be like to be round and full like that instead of empty, flat. To carry life inside me. I don't think about it much anymore. I have never gotten myself tested to see if I have the Lou Gehrig's gene like my father, like my grandfather. I tremble at the thought of bequeathing my fear to another, if not my child, then his or hers, a Damocles sword over all my generations. And at the same time...

I sigh. The sky that had sagged so sweetly, as if the Kingdom of Heaven's doormat was just within reach, is pinned back into place by a fiery thumbtack. I labor over the jar and its crumbled contents. "You would be, I'd estimate, three thousand years old today," I say. Some scholars have written that these are the remains of child sacrifices from an ancient cult. It's possible, I shrug to myself. Infant mortality rates were astronomically high. Still are in many places. "I don't know," I say out loud to no one. "Either way, you probably weren't going to make it to your three-thousandth birthday anyhow." I begin to hear the buzz of insects as the sun climbs, doing their jobs as well. Diggers are beginning to arrive. Soon my tea...

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Book Description Tantor Media, Inc, United States, 2009. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged edition. Language: English . Brand New. Brilliant archaeologist Page Brookstone is convinced bones speak, yet none of the ancient remnants she has unearthed during her twelve years of toiling at Israel s storied battlegrounds of Megiddo has delivered the life-altering message she so craves. Which is why the story of Ibrahim and Aisha Barakat, a young Arab couple who implore Page to excavate the grounds beneath their house in Anatot, instantly intrigues her. The Barakats claim the ghosts of two lovers haunt their home, overwhelming everyone who enters with love and desire. Ignoring the scorn of her peers, Page investigates the site, where she is seduced by an undeniable force. Once Ibrahim presents Page with hard evidence of a cistern beneath his living room, she has no choice but to uncover the secret of the spirits. It is not long before Page makes miraculous discoveries-the bones of the deeply troubled prophet Jeremiah locked in an eternal embrace with a mysterious woman named Anatiya. Buried with the entwined skeletons is a collection of Anatiya s scrolls, whose mystical words challenge centuries-old interpretations of the prophet s story and create a worldwide fervor that threatens to silence the truth about the lovers forever. Caught in a forbidden romance of her own, and under constant siege from religious zealots and ruthless critics, Page risks her life and professional reputation to deliver Anatiya s passionate message to the world. In doing so, she discovers that to preserve her future in the land of the living, she must shake off the dust of the dead and let go of her own painful past. As poignant and thought-provoking as the beloved bestsellers The Red Tent and People of the Book, Zoe Klein s historically rich debut novel is a lyrical and unexpected journey that will stay with listeners forever. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781400163441

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Book Description Tantor Media, Inc, United States, 2009. CD-Audio. Book Condition: New. Unabridged edition. Language: English . Brand New. Brilliant archaeologist Page Brookstone is convinced bones speak, yet none of the ancient remnants she has unearthed during her twelve years of toiling at Israel s storied battlegrounds of Megiddo has delivered the life-altering message she so craves. Which is why the story of Ibrahim and Aisha Barakat, a young Arab couple who implore Page to excavate the grounds beneath their house in Anatot, instantly intrigues her. The Barakats claim the ghosts of two lovers haunt their home, overwhelming everyone who enters with love and desire. Ignoring the scorn of her peers, Page investigates the site, where she is seduced by an undeniable force. Once Ibrahim presents Page with hard evidence of a cistern beneath his living room, she has no choice but to uncover the secret of the spirits. It is not long before Page makes miraculous discoveries-the bones of the deeply troubled prophet Jeremiah locked in an eternal embrace with a mysterious woman named Anatiya. Buried with the entwined skeletons is a collection of Anatiya s scrolls, whose mystical words challenge centuries-old interpretations of the prophet s story and create a worldwide fervor that threatens to silence the truth about the lovers forever. Caught in a forbidden romance of her own, and under constant siege from religious zealots and ruthless critics, Page risks her life and professional reputation to deliver Anatiya s passionate message to the world. In doing so, she discovers that to preserve her future in the land of the living, she must shake off the dust of the dead and let go of her own painful past. As poignant and thought-provoking as the beloved bestsellers The Red Tent and People of the Book, Zoe Klein s historically rich debut novel is a lyrical and unexpected journey that will stay with listeners forever. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9781400163441

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Book Description Tantor Media Inc. No binding. Book Condition: New. MP3 CD. Dimensions: 7.5in. x 5.4in. x 0.6in.Brilliant archaeologist Page Brookstone is convinced bones speak, yet none of the ancient remnants she has unearthed during her twelve years of toiling at Israels storied battlegrounds of Megiddo has delivered the life-altering message she so craves. Which is why the story of Ibrahim and Aisha Barakat, a young Arab couple who implore Page to excavate the grounds beneath their house in Anatot, instantly intrigues her. The Barakats claim the ghosts of two lovers haunt their home, overwhelming everyone who enters with love and desire. Ignoring the scorn of her peers, Page investigates the site, where she is seduced by an undeniable force. Once Ibrahim presents Page with hard evidence of a cistern beneath his living room, she has no choice but to uncover the secret of the spirits. It is not long before Page makes miraculous discoveriesthe bones of the deeply troubled prophet Jeremiah locked in an eternal embrace with a mysterious woman named Anatiya. Buried with the entwined skeletons is a collection of Anatiyas scrolls, whose mystical words challenge centuries-old interpretations of the prophets story and create a worldwide fervor that threatens to silence the truth about the lovers forever. Caught in a forbidden romance of her own, and under constant siege from religious zealots and ruthless critics, Page risks her life and professional reputation to deliver Anatiyas passionate message to the world. In doing so, she discovers that to preserve her future in the land of the living, she must shake off the dust of the dead and let go of her own painful past. As poignant and thought-provoking as the beloved bestsellers The Red Tent and People of the Book, Zo Kleins historically rich debut novel is a lyrical and unexpected journey that will stay with listeners forever. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. MP3 CD. Bookseller Inventory # 9781400163441

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