So, after a long dry spell, I finally have a new book coming out. It’s called ‘Shadow Of A Thief,’ and it will be released on 10/10. I just finished what I sincerely hope is the last edit. What’s it about, you say?
I’m so glad you asked.
I was reading ‘God Is Not One,’ by Stephen Prothero. It’s subtitled ‘The eight rival religions that run the world and why their differences matter.’ One of the author’s central points is that most of us generalize when we talk about God, in that we tend to assume that, aside from some superficial differences, we all agree in principle about what sorts of traits and characteristics this pantheistic deity that we all, or most of us, kinda sorta believe in, has. Prothero, who is a professor of theology, knows better, and he details the radically different and mutually incompatible notions held by differing cultures and religions. And as in all such works, the story is really about us, not about God after all. It’s about how our individual and collective misunderstandings about God and spirituality have evolved divergently over time. ‘God Is Not One’ is a terrific book and it illuminates powerfully at least some of the reasons why we are still dropping bombs on one another. Prothero, in a remarkably even-handed way, progresses from the Judeo-Christian tradition through Islam and then into Hinduism and Buddhism, and most of us know at least a little bit about all of that. And then there’s the chapter on Yoruba.
Yoruba is a tribe, a culture, a geographical region of Africa, and finally, a major religion, probably at least as old as any of its rivals. Its traditions and scriptures are largely oral, and they have had a profound influence on the culture, ideas, and spiritual lives of millions and millions of people. Of course, religions being what they are, most of us have a sort of ethnocentric attitude about the whole thing. Yeah, your religion might be metaphorical in nature, but not mine, pal, mine is revealed truth from on high…
Sure, buddy. Don’t forget to take your fit medicine.
So one of the cool things about NYC is that, if something exists somewhere on the planet, it’s pretty good odds we got a piece of it somewhere in the five boroughs. A lot of novels begin with the author asking ‘what if?’ I was intrigued by the Yoruba story and I began to wonder what it would look like if there were something to it, something more than myth and legend. What if you had a young lady from the Yoruba culture stranded on Manhattan’s lower east side, and what if she were, through no fault of her own, in deep, deep trouble? And what if she reached out, in the only way she knew how, to her higher power and asked for deliverance? How ’bout that? So we have the story of Aniri, a young Nigerian who has gotten jammed up in a big way, and she reaches out. In so doing, she unleashes a series of events that lures Saul Fowler, an art thief and a drug addict who may or may not be recovering from his addictions, back to NYC, where he proceeds to set fire to the equilibrium holding Aniri in unwilling servitude. And of course, there are always unintended consequences…
Would that be divine intervention? Who could tell?
I had a great time writing this novel, and now I have to let it go. It’s an odd feeling, I imagine it’s a bit like sending your kid off to school for the first time, hoping that he’s gonna be okay, get where he needs to go, and find his way.