Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Book Review: 'The Leper Messiah' by Rob Levinson
A king unites the tribes and protects us from our enemies.” David stood up. “I will do that.”
Rob Levinson steps into the historical fiction limelight with his debut novel THE LEPER MESSIAH. Not only has Rob crafted a deeply impressive novel about the birth and childhood of David, the slayer of Goliath and the eventual King of Israel, but he taps into historic tradition (the “Leper Messiah” being the two aspects of the Messiah – a sufferer and a conqueror) and a contemporary concept – of Metallica’s and David Bowie’s musical statements by that name.
Rob Levinson offers his initiation as a writer in a manner that seduces the reader into this mystery – the birth and childhood and young adult aspects of David that resulted in his becoming the hero King of Israel. And yes, stories of David‘s slaying of Goliath and his adulterous affair with Bathsheba are well known as his triumphs as King, but Rob explores how this great man developed.
Another reason this history works so well is Rob’s affinity for the beginnings of David: ‘I was adopted after being in an orphanage and did not know my mother’s name. I somehow felt a powerful connection with David’s mother, Nitzevet. Nitzy, my nickname for her, proved to be a hard taskmaster. After a few ill-written words, she came to me in a dream with grave misgivings. Her gaze shook me from my sleep; the eyes pierced my soul and demanded much more than my feeble words could bring to life. I vowed to honor her son David.’
The pleasures of Rob’s eloquent prose keep the reader involved in this ‘created biography’ – based on truth and biblical reference and conjecture and imagination. The development from the birth to the young lad status is shared in short sentences or paragraphs, much like reading the Bible. Example – ‘A few days later Nitzevet cradled David in the late afternoon shadow of an olive tree. She gently anointed his forehead with rose oil and whispered of her mother’s love through the rolling hill country of Hebron. “I am The Mystical Rose, the light of the burning bush that burns brighter than the sun. The light of The Rose will guide thee and the path of The Rose will lead you.’
Mysticism, raw reality, the introduction of the lineage/family, the Scorpion (‘The warrior priest who becomes David’s protector, the former thief who sold David to the slave trader, and the baby in the cave’), King Saul, Princess Rose - all add to the tension and fascination this creative novel brings to readers of every following. Highly Recommended for all audiences. This is a sign that a new and important author has joined the literary ranks.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.