Just in time for the Jewish carnival festival of Purim, I received a comedy thriller with a wonderfully eccentric theme.
An Unexpected Afterlife ** is based on the Jewish belief that as and when the Messiah arrives, the dead will be resurrected to live again.
So if the challenge was to make a gag out of serious, standard Jewish dogma, then the story succeeded in making me grin from the moment that protagonist Moshe Karlin awakes naked and alone in Jerusalem’s famed Mount of Olives Cemetery to when he and a group of fellow ‘resurrectees’ form a non-profit self-help charity named ‘The Dry Bones Society’. You don’t get more ‘Jewish’ than this!
The story, by South African immigrant to Israel, Dan Sofer (the pen name of software creator, Daniel J Miller) is well-paced, vivid, suffused with the sort of sweet, funny in-jokes that I first spied in his short story, Larry and Kate and helps to give non-Jewish readers a glimpse into the reality of Jewish and Israeli life.
If I were to start asking too many loaded questions – something frowned upon by the Talmudic rabbis – I’d start to reveal the plot. Suffice to say then, Sofer’s new book is the first in a planned series called The Dry Bones Society and I bet a certain well-known Israeli political cartoonist soon wishes he’d got the idea first!
** I received an advance reader’s copy of An Unexpected Afterlife by Dan Sofer in exchange for an honest review. It is available from Amazon in paperback @ $14.95 from Tuesday 28 March 2017.
© Natalie Wood (13 March 2017)