By Herman Wouk
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781451699388, 240pp.)
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
For more than fifty years, legendary author Herman Wouk has dreamed of writing a novel about the life of Moses. Finally, at age ninety-seven, he has found an ingeniously witty way to tell the tale in The Lawgiver, a romantic and suspenseful epistolary novel about a group of people trying to make a movie about Moses in the present day. The story emerges from letters, memos, e-mails, journals, news articles, recorded talk, Skype transcripts, and text messages.
At the center of The Lawgiver is Margo Solovei, a brilliant young writer-director who has rejected her rabbinical father’s strict Jewish upbringing to pursue a career in the arts. When an Australian multibillionaire promises to finance a movie about Moses if the script meets certain standards, Margo does everything she can to land the job, including a reunion with her estranged first love, an influential lawyer with whom she still has unfinished business.
Two other key characters in the novel are Herman Wouk himself and his wife of more than sixty years, Betty Sarah, who, almost against their will, find themselves entangled in the Moses movie when the Australian billionaire insists on Wouk’s stamp of approval.
As Wouk and his characters contend with Moses and marriage, and the force of tradition, rebellion, and reunion, The Lawgiver reflects the wisdom of a lifetime. Inspired by the great nineteenth-century novelists, one of America’s most beloved twentieth-century authors has now written a remarkable twenty-first-century work of fiction.
Herman Wouk is the author of such classics as The Caine Mutiny (1951), Marjorie Morningstar (1955), Youngblood Hawke (1961), Don’t Stop the Carnival (1965), The Winds of War (1971), War and Remembrance (1978), and Inside, Outside (1985). His later works include The Hope (1993), The Glory (1994), and A Hole in Texas (2004). Among Mr. Wouk’s laurels are the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Caine Mutiny; the cover of Time magazine for Marjorie Morningstar, the bestselling novel of that year; and the cultural phenomenon of The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, which he wrote over a thirteen-year period and which went on to become two of the most popular novels and TV miniseries events of the 1970s and 1980s. In 1998, he received the Guardian of Zion Award for support of Israel. In 2008, Mr. Wouk was honored with the first Library of Congress Fiction Award, to be known as the Herman Wouk Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Writing of Fiction. He lives in Palm Springs, California.
At the age of 97, bestselling author Herman Wouk has written a novel that's told by the most contemporary storytelling technology, including emails and transcripts of Skype conversations. Host Scott Simon talks with Wouk about The Lawgiver. More at NPR.org
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“A lighthearted and delightful tour de force.”
-The Washington Times
“Wouk makes commanding use of the epistolary form, and what emerges is an entertaining addition to his literary canon. It's clever without being too cutesy, revealing a writer who - at 96 - shows little sign of slowing down.”
-Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
“[I] n some essential way, this book about a movie about a book is also about the very act of writing books. Wouk reminds us of the eternal value of storytelling while he shows 30- and 50- and 80-year-old whippersnappers how it’s done.”
"“Read this one. You’ll smile all the way through.”
-Hudson Valley News (NY)
“Readers will undoubtedly marvel at the ability of a ninety-seven year old author to produce a book with such an unusual format. Regardless of their opinion about the book’s design, anything written by Herman Wouk is worth reading and The Lawgiver is no exception.”
-The Jerusalem Post
"An engaging comedy/love story about present-day Hollywood."
“Honest, highly readable, entertaining."
“…The Lawgiver is a combination of sweet romantic comedy and sly Hollywood satire, and it is as much fun to read as it seems to have been to write….Wouk excels in channeling distinctive voices."
-The Columbus Dispatch (OH)