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Cover for Drawing In the Dust

Drawing In the Dust

Zoe Klein


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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (8/16/2009)

July 2009 Indie Next List

“Lyrical and moving, fast-paced and fascinating, Drawing in the Dust tells the story of a love that transcends time and cultural barriers. Set in Israel, the story has echoes of the bomb-riddled world we see on the nightly news, but it also renders a world rich with the juxtaposition of history and modernity.”
— Annie Leonard, The Next Chapter, Knoxville, IA
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Brilliant archaeologist Page Brookstone has toiled at Israel’s storied battlegrounds of Megiddo for twelve years, yet none of the ancient remnants she has unearthed deliver the life-altering message she craves. Which is why she risks her professional reputation when a young Arab couple begs her to excavate beneath their home. Ibrahim and Naima Barakat claim the spirits of two lovers overwhelm everyone who enters with love and desire. As Page digs, she makes a miraculous discovery—the bones of the deeply troubled prophet Jeremiah locked in an eternal embrace with a mysterious woman. Buried with the entwined skeletons is a collection of scrolls that challenge centuries-old interpretations of the prophet’s story and create a worldwide fervor.

Caught in a forbidden romance of her own, and under siege from religious zealots and relentless critics, Page endangers her life to share the lovers’ story with the world. But in doing so, she discovers she must let go of her own painful past. Called a “zesty debut” by Kirkus Reviews, Zoë Klein’s historically rich novel is a lyrical and unexpected journey as poignant and thought-provoking as the beloved bestsellers The Red Tent and People of the Book.

Praise For Drawing In the Dust

"Lyrical, transformative, and unexpected, Drawing will keep you enthralled in the moment, yet racing to know more." -- Gina B. Nahai, NYT bestselling author of Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith

"Archaeology is the most dangerous of sciences, fundamentalism the most insidious of religious beliefs, and fiction the most seductive form of writing. Mix all three together, and you have Drawing in the Dust.... Zoe Klein will rock your foundations! This is what fiction should be about." -- Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, NYT bestselling authors of The Betrayal

"A magically inventive archaeological expedition into love's psyche. Rabbi Klein's voice is enormously literate, politically sophisticated, spiritually captivating, and above all, unique." -- Lawrence Kushner, author of Kabbalah : A Love Story

"Drawing in the Dust is original in every sense of the word: creative, innovative, novel. It is an archaeological adventure that resurrects buried romance. With feeling intellect, the author reveals the secret of the heart." -- Rabbi Harold Schulweis, Author of Conscience: The Duty to Obey and the Duty to Disobey

Gallery Books, 9781416599135, 384pp.

Publication Date: May 4, 2010

About the Author

ZOË KLEIN pursued the rabbinate out of a passion for ancient texts, mythology, liturgy and poetry. Zoë Klein has written for Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and Tikkun. She has written chapters in a number of collections including The Women’s Torah Commentary and Holy Ground: A Gathering of Voices on Caring for Creation. Her poetry and prayers are used in houses of worship around the country and has appeared as a commentator on the History Channel in “Digging for the Truth.” She lives with her family, where she is the senior rabbi of a large congregation.

Conversation Starters from

  1. The Barakats believe the ground beneath their house is haunted and claim to have seen spirits in their home. How does their faith contribute to this belief? Do you think that Page begins believing in ghosts and the paranormal as the book progresses? Who are the skeptics and who are the cynics of the novel?
  2. Discuss the various aspects of faith as they relate to the novel. Do not limit yourself to strictly religious faith, but also discuss everyday matters of faith, i.e. the hope and belief that things will always work out for the best, etc.
  3. What parts of the book made you reflect upon your own feelings and beliefs about religion? How do you feel about the religious restrictions placed on Page and Mortichai's relationship? What was your reaction to the destruction of the archaeological finds in the name of religion?
  4. Water makes several appearances in the novel, from the cistern below the Barakats' home, to baths, to ritual cleansing. What is the symbolism of water throughout the book as it relates to worship and faith?
  5. The author is a congregational rabbi, a position that has been traditionally held by men. How are traditional gender roles subverted in this story? What is Klein saying by giving Anatiya as much agency as she does? How would the story have been different if Jeremiah had written the scrolls instead?
  6. The passages from the scrolls which appear at the beginning of each chapter tell of the love story between Jeremiah and Anatiya. How do those passages mirror what happens to the characters in each of those chapters?
  7. Early in the book Page's friend points out the difference between a broken heart and a depressed heart. How would you describe the status of Page's heart at the beginning of the novel? Where is it at the end? How does her relationship with Mortichai change it?
  8. Page is accused of being able to string together complex concepts, but of being unable to understand simple things such as love. How true do you think this is and why? How does her emotional growth progress throughout the novel?
  9. The conventional definition of archaeology is the scientific study of historic or prehistoric people and their cultures. Beyond Page's search into the history of Jeremiah, what else is she searching for in her past as it relates to her family and relationships? What does she discover that she wasn't searching for?
  10. Page has chosen a career that isolates her and places her within a small contained group of people. What is she avoiding? Do you see symbolism in her choice of a career in archaeology? Part of the process of archaeology is the constant search for things long hidden, things in the past that will help us better understand the present. What are the various characters searching for? Norris? Page? Itai? The Barakats? Who is more successful in finding what they seek, and why?