The God-Fearer

978-5-9953-0260-5, 978-5-7516-1155-2;
2013
154 pages
250 gr.

With laudable intent and general success, Jacobson ( The Rape of Tamar ) has written a haunting parable about religious prejudice that was shortlisted for Britain's Whitbread Prize. Set in an imaginary time and place that closely resembles medieval Europe, the story concerns an elderly man who begins to see visions of two young children, whom he realizes are not of his faith because they wear the clothes of a persecuted sect, the Christers. Eventually he traces these hallucinations to an event of his youth, when he could have testified on behalf of an innocent Christer servant girl who was falsely accused of witchcraft, but instead contributed to her despair and death. In this "what if" scenario, the early Christians have remained a minority under the dominant followers of Yehudim, and must endure the calumny, random assaults and even the organized pogroms that, in the real world, have been visited on Jews in every century. Jacobson's evocation of that alternate world is chilling: Christers are forced into servitude and poverty, treated with cruelty and disdain, used as scapegoats. Their persecutors, meanwhile, remain satisfied that theirs is the only valid perception of the deity. While this slim story should sensitize readers of any faith to new perceptions of intolerance and bigotry, some may find it somewhat too neatly plotted and predictable. Its message, however, is memorable. 

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