“Our Promised Land” by Michael T. Darkow is the fictional story of multiple characters whose lives intersect with one another. Ellie is a Jewish man who suffers unspeakable loss in a concentration camp in Germany. He is haunted by the death of his mother. Yasif is a Palestinian man who leaves his home to study in America, the “devil,” to which his mother refers. Ellie becomes an official in Israel, his “promised land.” The Palestinians, including Yasif’s family lead by his volatile brother Nabi, counter Israel’s attempt to take their homeland which they consider to be their rightful home. Weaving the tale between the two main characters, Ellie and Yasif, as well as others that are introduced, Darkow creates a conclusion that can only end in one of two choices: peace or utter destruction.
“Our Promised Land” is a wonderful book. Darkow not only writes beautifully, but he takes a contentious topic (the Israel/Palestinian conflict), presents the sides simply, and makes the reader sympathetic with both positions. It is so easy to tune out issues that don’t affect one’s immediate world, but “Our Promised Land” will open a dialogue whether with others or within one’s own mind about what price one should pay for what he believes is right and whether or not settling for peace even when he feels he is being cheated is really the better solution.
Reading Darkow’s story was not easy in the sense that the topic was disturbing at times, but to really understand a conflict one must know all parts whether easy to digest or not. I found myself sympathetic with Yasif, Ellie, and even Fatahd (another main character who struggles with peace vs. violence to achieve the desired end result). Darkow captured my attention and taught me something at the same time. Everyone should step outside of his comfort zone once in a while, and I have done that with reading “Our Promised Land.” Congratulations to Mr. Darkow, and may his vision for debate lead to peace.
Our Promised Land: A Novel
Michael T. Darkow
Synergy Books (2010)
Reviewed by Marcy Blesy for Reader Views (08/10)