BY DROR BURSTEIN
REVIEW BY: MARCIA R. RUDIN
In this re-telling of the life of Jeremiah, the second major prophet in the Hebrew Bible, Dror Burstein, an Israeli poet and novelist who teaches literature at Tel Aviv and Hebrew universities, interweaves all aspects of the modern world, including cell phones, fax machines, computers, and high-speed transit with the ancient Jerusalem in which the First Temple dominates the horizon. The two timeframes exist side-by-side, with Jeremiah and the other characters straddling both worlds.
The setting of Muck: A Novel (published in Hebrew in 2016 by Keter, and in English translation by Gabriel Levin in November 2018) is both present-day Israel and seventh-century B.C.E. Judea, where a struggling young poet named Jeremiah is called upon by God to be a prophet.
It’s bad enough he has to contend with literary critics, one of whom hates Jeremiah’s work so much he hits him with the writer’s own computer in the novel’s opening scene. But that’s nothing compared to the backlash he endures after he warns every one of the impending foreign invasion and catastrophe, sometimes via intercom at the king’s castle or through a loudspeaker.