Moses in the Sinai (Hardcover)
Black Heron Press, 9780930773595, 270pp.
Publication Date: January 1, 2010
About the Author
Praise For Moses in the Sinai…
"In this dark follow-up to her critically acclaimed novel Louisa, Zelitch returns to her first publishing house to offer a literary impression of the biblical hero Moses, painting his life as one continuous horror. In an opening scene, the baby Moses is abandoned for dead by his father, Amram, then disfigured and left with a stutter when his adoptive mother, the mad Egyptian princess Bityah, persuades him to suck on a live coal. After murdering an overseer as a young man, Moses wanders in despair amid poisonous snakes in Sinai until he returns to lead the Hebrew slaves to an unhappy freedom. There are more ghastly events to come; as Zelitch wryly observes, “Moses was doomed to live for a long time.” The insane Bityah has a significant role, treating Moses as a pet and “my good baby” even as he approaches manhood. Later, her mad love for Moses and her bereavement after his desertion turns her brother/husband Merneptah’s affection for Moses to hatred. Moses’ family is harshly treated by Zelitch: his sister Miriam is “queen of the witches,” while his brother Aaron serves in the temple of Seth, where he becomes the voice of the “god” and has homosexual relations with his mentor Nube. Zelitch excels in crafting atmosphere and descriptions, but even dedicated readers who are familiar with the biblical account will have difficulty following the story because of the multiple points of view and obscure symbols." — From Publishers Weekly, Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
"When Zelitch tells the biblical story of Moses and the journey he led of the Hebrew people to Sinai, Moses is more truth seeker than leader. The mysteries of faith provoke him to philosophize and question God, hindering his desire to lead the slaves out of Egypt. His brother, the high priest Aaron, speaks for him and helps mobilize the people and guide them to their destination, but he, too, begins to question his capability. Ultimately, the people and the faith endure, but the theological questions that haunt the major characters in the novel–in particular, what is the name of their God? –humanize these larger-than-life figures. Occasionally one glimpses Zelitch’s imaginative and romantic style, but the story line dominates the novel, which is unfortunate. In Louisa (2000), Zelitch more impressively showed her talent for combining harsh and earthy subject matter with graceful and picturesque prose. Still, those who care for her writing and fans of biblical fiction like Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent (1997) will enjoy this book." — Michelle Kaske, From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved