'Riveting, horrific, poetic brilliance.' -- Michael Turner, author of 'The Pornographer's Poem'<br /><br /> 'A starkly brutal existential journey into power, guilt, identity, bureaucracy and the darkest corners of the human soul.' --Michael Mirolla, author of 'Berlin'<br /><br /> 'A brave and original writer' --Joseph Kertes, winner of the National Jewish Book Award for 'Gratitude'<br /><br /> 'This is our world turned on its head, and wonderfully writ. Astonishing.' -- Linda Spalding, author of 'Who Named the Knife' co-editor of Brick Magazine<br /><br />Nightmare pulls valid questions out of dark, gasping for air <P>THE cover of D.O. Dodd's provocatively named short novel hints at the confusion that reigns within its pages.<BR>The word "Jew'' in bold red capital letters is set above a upside-down photo of a man with a shaved head, his eyes hooded in shadow. The back cover is reversed, with the title upside down beneath the photo. <P>The author, too, is a bit of an enigma; a Canadian who has lived in several provinces (though one website describes the writer as "currently incarcerated overseas"), even his/her sex is unclear. <P>Published by a long-standing Toronto-based literary house, this discomfiting book begins with a nameless, naked man clawing his way out of a pile of dead bodies. The detail with which Dodd describes his emergence from the reeking, suffocating heap puts the reader right in the unthinkable moment. <P>"His fingers -- while fearing touch -- frantically hunted for space and found a small, dry hollow, crowned by rough edges. Teeth." <P>He doesn't know who he is, where he is or how he got there.<BR>He finds a uniform, all black with glittering insignias on the sleeves, with a gun in a holster he belts around his waist.<BR>He sees a man, lying atop a dead woman, who looks just like him. He shoots him, his hand moving to the butt of the gun almost instinctively, and adds his body to the pile outside, then drives a waiting car into the nearest town, where he is treated as if he is known and feared.<BR>Kafkaesque <P>Trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare where's he's gone from victim to commander, he assumes the role he's been given with perhaps too much zeal: he saves a familiar-looking woman from abuse by soldiers but he uses his authority to shoot an officer who may reveal that he's not who he claims to be ... whoever that is (Dodd gives the characters no names). <P>Of course, the obvious assumption is that the man was at a German concentration camp, a Jew who somehow escaped death and freed himself from under a pile of his not-so-lucky fellow prisoners. <P>But Dodd toys with our assumptions, and it gradually becomes clear that this isn't the Second World War but a religious conflict, one in which it appears Jews are the aggressors and Muslims the conquered people. <P>Dodd will likely be accused of anti-Semitism but his point seems to be that even oppressed people, when given the opportunity to oppress others, will do so, however slight their physical differences. <P>The author piles on the disorientation and existential twists, until the reader isn't sure which way is up. (Disturbing, Francis Bacon-like pencil drawings inside, of naked bodies with mouths open in silent screams, only add to the disorienting feeling.) <P>It's tough to recommend Jew to the casual reader: it's horrific, violent and deeply troubling. But it's also undeniably powerful, a thought-provoking book that lingers in the mind. <BR>Dodd doesn't point fingers, but points instead to man's universal capacity for hatred. <P>Ji --Me and My Big Mouth (blog)
About the Author
Canadian D.O. Dodd, author of Whispers the Missing Child, The Hostage Taker, and Jew, is currently working on a book about domestic slavery.