Friday, April 13, 2007

Pg. 99: "The Genizah at the House of Shepher"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Tamar Yellin's The Genizah at the House of Shepher.

About the book:
Beginning with a search for the ten lost tribes and ending in an attic, where lies an important bible which has been missing for seventy-nine years, The Genizah at the House of Shepher explores themes of history and myth, heritage and selfhood from a keenly contemporary perspective.

Genizah (the Hebrew word, meaning literally "hiding place," refers to a depository for old or damaged sacred documents) is the saga of a Jerusalem family stretching over a hundred and forty-five years and four generations, but it is also a thriller about a missing biblical codex and the search for the true text of the Bible. Returning to her grandparents' house in Jerusalem after a long absence, Shulamit, a biblical scholar, becomes embroiled in a family feud over possession of the so-called Shepher Codex, a mysterious and valuable manuscript of the Pentateuch which has been discovered in the attic. In unravelling the origins of the Codex Shulamit uncovers not only her ancestors' history but is obliged to reconsider her own past, her present, and ultimately, her choices for the future.

Moving from family comedy to pathos to Talmudic-style fable, the tale of the family Shepher, their aspirations, feuds and love affairs, is a large canvas novel of exile and belonging, displacement and the struggle for identity.
Among the praise for the novel:
"Yellin's first novel is impossible to put down ... this novel [has] beauty, deep love, and a timelessness that will likely make it a classic."
- Booklist (starred review)

"A fascinating, labyrinthine journey."
- Kirkus Reviews

"Filled with myth, mystery and history."
- Library Journal

"Warm and engrossing, rich with historical detail and unmet yearning."
- Publishers Weekly

"A Jewish-style Da Vinci Code saga."
Visit Tamar Yellin's website and read the opening chapters of The Genizah at the House of Shepher.

The Page 99 Test: The Genizah at the House of Shepher.

--Marshal Zeringue