Poet, novelist and filmmaker Metzger's new novel is an amorphous feminist meditation on Jewish history. The biblical Dinah, Metzger's namesake in Genesis, loved Schechem, a prince of an alien tribe, whom her brothers treacherously slew. In the novel, Dina Z., a Jewish-American woman, is filming a documentary in Israel, but her pilgrimage leads her deep into her past as she sorrowfully ponders her people's patriarchal intolerance. When Dina falls in love with Jamine, a Palestinian activist for whom she gowns herself in a Bedouin wedding dress in a bazaar, she intimately relives Dinah's tragedy. She names their daughter Asenath, as Dinah did, but Jamine's fate remains unknown. The novel does not proceed as a linear narrative, but is structured like a cluster of dreams, as Dina identifies with her ancestress, retelling the tale in its variations. Was Dinah stoned as a harlot, or did she go to Egypt with her half-brother Joseph to become a priestess? Perhaps Dinah was a type of the Great Mother Goddess, Ishtar. The novel tends to ramble repetitiously but, at its best, is a rich, thoughtful and unusual creation. (Oct.)
Three faces of Dinah appear in this novel--that of the author, Deena, an American filmmaker, writer, and feminist; of protagonist Dinah Z., also a Jewish-American filmmaker on location in Israel to make a documentary on how living on holy ground affects the lives of the people living there; and of the biblical Dinah, the daughter of Jacob by Leah who was ravished by Shechem, a Hivite. Two of Dinah's brothers, Simeon and Levi, revenged the insult. ``What Dinah thought'' about this, what modern Dinahs think about sexuality and danger, and of the dictates of gender, are the focus of this multidimensional book in which the three Dinahs are interwoven. Though the technique of using biblical passages, dream sequences, and narrative in the present would probably work better in a film, this is a powerful, imaginative portrayal of biblical and modern women's issues.-- Molly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, Md.