I heard the author, Yosef Gotlieb, interviewed on the radio, and the premise of his novel, Rise, sounded so promising. I’ve been searching for a novel set in the Middle East that’s politically balanced, relevant, and current. This one promised to be it. There’s just one problem.

Gotlieb can’t write. The dialogue, in particular, is didactic, wooden, and dull. No one, I mean, no one speaks like this. Be clear. Gotlieb knows a lot; he clearly admires the geography and understands the issues. He just isn’t able to turn them into anything like interesting fiction. He wants to call this “a novel of contemporary Israel” but lapses into vagueness whenever he gets too close to anything that might connect with today’s headlines.

The politics of this piece are hopelessly naive – his ‘answers’ so ridiculously simple when you consider the situation he’s trying to address (the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). You find yourself waiting for the protagonists to sing “Kumbayah!”

In terms of the plot, the resolution is (and I won’t spoil it here) nothing more than another potshot fired into the dark – on two levels – against America, and against the GLBQT community.

What a waste of an opportunity.