In the Shadow of Babylon
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In the Shadow of Babylon

by John Schwartz
     
 
KIRKUS Review 2/12: An epoch-spanning thriller that's part academic mystery and part historical fantasy.
This time-traversing story opens in 11,000 B.C. with a first-person tale rendered in high archaic fashion but with clear psychological self-awareness. Ayuba, a clansman shepherd from a time just outside of recorded history, relates the terrible destruction

Overview

KIRKUS Review 2/12: An epoch-spanning thriller that's part academic mystery and part historical fantasy.
This time-traversing story opens in 11,000 B.C. with a first-person tale rendered in high archaic fashion but with clear psychological self-awareness. Ayuba, a clansman shepherd from a time just outside of recorded history, relates the terrible destruction of his family and his herd. Ayuba's story continues throughout, but it is the discovery of this man's poem (the oldest writing in the world) that incites the events in 2004. Flashing forward 13,000 years to an Iraqi academic's bedroom, the novel's modern thriller-style plot begins. Dr. Elman Darshi is trying to convince his wife that Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist agents are not in fact coming for them in the night. The sudden jump in time and tone is remarkably compelling rather than jarring and gives this novel its unique literary fascination. Ancient tablets containing the Song of Ayuba lead to information that is not only threatening to Hussein's small empire of megalomania, but to established history and cultural orthodoxy. After Darshi is eliminated for his years of research and toil, his daughter, Alex, picks up the torch and reads the translation to the world on satellite television. The song itself is yet another layer in the literary quality of the novel and works as the novel's philosophical centerpiece. The poem is lyrical, mystical and shockingly secular-this in particular causes a great deal of controversy once the poem is rendered for the Arabic-speaking world. Ayuba's narrative is essentially a fantastic hero story. After the dissolution of his people, he travels into the Beyond relating his experiences and the strange encounters of a world lost to history. Schwartz deftly weaves the romantic experiences of a pre-historical shepherd into an extended homily that punctuates the trials of the Middle East as the contemporary narrative plunges along in the best page-turner fashion. Not only linked well rhetorically, the prose here is something to behold and is evocative without sacrificing concision, an absolute demand of the thriller genre. Many readers will be convinced that a literary discovery of this magnitude really might change the course of contemporary politics, so confident and convincing is the vision of the novel. A wonderfully written, provocative novel that utilizes two distinct genres to promote progressive cultural messages.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An epoch-spanning thriller that's part academic mystery and part historical fantasy. This time-traversing story opens in 11,000 B.C. with a first-person tale rendered in high archaic fashion but with clear psychological self-awareness. Ayuba, a clansman shepherd from a time just outside of recorded history, relates the terrible destruction of his family and his herd. Ayuba's story continues throughout, but it is the discovery of this man's poem (the oldest writing in the world) that incites the events in 2004. Flashing forward 13,000 years to an Iraqi academic's bedroom, the novel's modern thriller-style plot begins. Dr. Elman Darshi is trying to convince his wife that Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist agents are not in fact coming for them in the night. The sudden jump in time and tone is remarkably compelling rather than jarring and gives this novel its unique literary fascination. Ancient tablets containing the Song of Ayuba lead to information that is not only threatening to Hussein's small empire of megalomania, but to established history and cultural orthodoxy. After Darshi is eliminated for his years of research and toil, his daughter, Alex, picks up the torch and reads the translation to the world on satellite television. The song itself is yet another layer in the literary quality of the novel and works as the novel's philosophical centerpiece. The poem is lyrical, mystical and shockingly secular—this in particular causes a great deal of controversy once the poem is rendered for the Arabic-speaking world. Ayuba's narrative is essentially a fantastic hero story. After the dissolution of his people, he travels into the Beyond relating his experiences and the strange encounters of a world lost to history. Schwartz deftly weaves the romantic experiences of a pre-historical shepherd into an extended homily that punctuates the trials of the Middle East as the contemporary narrative plunges along in the best page-turner fashion. Not only linked well rhetorically, the prose here is something to behold and is evocative without sacrificing concision, an absolute demand of the thriller genre. Many readers will be convinced that a literary discovery of this magnitude really might change the course of contemporary politics, so confident and convincing is the vision of the novel. A wonderfully written, provocative novel that utilizes two distinct genres to promote progressive cultural messages.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781461107132
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
08/11/2011
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

John Schwartz is not your ordinary author just as his first novel In The Shadow of Babylon is not an ordinary book. He flunked his way through a gang-infested southern California public school. Joined the military to avoid going to jail. Four years and one wife later he became a rock and roll DJ. Divorces are expensive so he went into the medical industry. After five years (at age 30) he made his first fortune and, along with wife #2, retired to a mansion on Diamond Head in Honolulu. Bored, he moved to the Fiji Islands where he promptly got involved with a huckster from Hong Kong ... so much for fortune #1 and wife #2. Desperate, he began selling medical and dental equipment throughout the Pacific Rim and spent the next 30 years living and working in Asia. He was one of the first Americans to enter China after the Cultural Revolution. He and his "final" wife tapped their credit cards and started a multilingual medical publishing company in Hong Kong, resulting in fortune #2.

An acclaimed poet, he is the winner of the 2002 Writers Digest National competition. The eleven line poem, unlike the other 19,000 entrants, was not about love, broken hearts, or death ... it was about a skyscraper in Hong Kong. One of the judges was Robert Pinsky (U.S. Poet Laureate 1997-2000) who reviewed his work favorably.

A couple of years ago John decided to quit using lucre as a way of keeping score in life. Examining his past he found there were a few basic guidelines that had unwittingly resulted in happiness and other less important achievements in his remarkable life. These guidelines are the core of In The Shadow of Babylon.

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