When I was six years old, my blasted older brother told me the story of Dracula and introduced me into a new emotion, sheer terror. I recall that same sinking feeling in my stomach now as I finish Enfold Me by Steven Greenberg. Because while the Count was unlikely to crawl into my room and suck my blood, the horror in this book was only a few short events away from being possible. A world where Israel had lost the war and had become Liberated Palestine. As a proud Zionist, I was haunted by this and had to read this incredible book in short doses, so haunting was the premise.
The post-Israel world is painted in graphic and terrible world through the eyes of Daniel Blum, a world where the modern country of Israel is reduced to a war zone with limited supplies and electricity, where Jews and Christians are Dhimmi, second class citizens. They are forced to wear armbands, have far less access to resources and endure humiliating rituals bent on denigrating them and slaughtering innocent people at whim.
When reading one particular scene of humiliation, I closed my e-reader and decided that Greenberg was veering into racism and that surely, this was just done for dramatic purpose. Unfortunately, truth is stranger than fiction and the day I wrote the email asking that very question, Muhammad Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate, just declared that he will “achieve the Islamic conquest (fath) of Egypt for the second time, and make all Christians convert to Islam, or else pay the jizya,” which made Greenberg quip if he owed Morsi royalties for the free advertising.
The novel is extremely compelling and I will refrain from discussing much of the plot as it’s hard to avoid spoiling the many incredible plot twists. Therefore, I will focus on the overall impression.
Enfold Me is truly well written. I can feel Israel’s rotting corpse in every single word, he paints the beautiful country’s destruction in heart breaking detail without veering into maudlin weeping. The epistolary nature makes the explanations less cumbersome and well woven into the plot. I especially enjoyed the dialogue, Greenberg has an ear for speech which moves the plot along.
The novel does have some weaknesses. Although necessary to the plot, the flashbacks are problematic because we are so worried about Daniel Bloom’s survival. As much as I wanted to know how this happened, I more wanted to know if he would ever see his wife and children again. I think it would have been stronger to have the letter format continue instead of throwing the reader out of the plot and making us want to skip ahead. This should be taken as a strength to the main plot, I wanted no distractions.
Sadly, Enfold Me doesn’t give any easy answers for the problems facing Israel. It’s an important book for the Zionist community to read to open up a conversation on the next steps in the country’s future, but it’s one even more important for the general public to read. Israel may seem like a strong country, but Greenburg shows that only a few steps separate the country from the brink. If that thought fails to chill the reader, read the book.
Count Dracula won’t be able to compare.