How to write a can’t-win book: An Israel-Palestine story

Exactly one day after my new novel, “Dinner at the Center of the Earth,” came out, I came face to face with a woman telling me that one of the murdered boys in the story was her cousin. I’d just spent years inside my noggin, maneuvering through the minefield of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and there I was, blinking in the sunlight, trying to grapple with someone’s read, not of the book, but of me. Together, we were going to tackle the question of exactly where my heart was while writing. Author Nathan Englander. (Juliana Sohn) I took a deep breath, waiting to see if I was in for a moment of shared intimacy or a very public denunciation. As for caring deeply about a stranger’s judgment, it really does matter to me. Not just because I’m overly sensitive and take to my fainting couch at the slightest of artistic slights. It’s that I’ve always considered fiction writing a moral act, believing that the writer’s sense of right and wrong is what informs that of the work. If one strives to build something real and true, it would have to be, as John Gardner said, “by its nature moral.” It […]

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