“Beguiling storytelling sorcery…Scheherazade crossed with A. B. Yehoshua…absolutely brilliant.” – Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author of Deborah, Golda and Me: Being Female and Jewish in America
The mixing of fact and fiction and the interplay of Jewish and Muslim culture are at the heart of A Delightful Compendium on Consolation: A Fabulous Tale of Romance, Adventure and Faith in the Medieval Mediterranean (Ben Yehuda Press, March 2008), a novel by Dr. Burton L. Visotzky.
The year is 1031. Karimah, a beautiful, headstrong Jewish nineteen-year-old, runs away with her Muslim boyfriend, leaving her family behind in Egypt. In his grief, her father, Dunash, turns to Rabbi Nissim, who writes A Delightful Compendium of Consolation, a series of rabbinical tales to comfort his friend. At the same time, Karimah writes her own letters, interspersed with stories she appropriates from the Arabian Nights, to her brother.
Masterfully blending historical fact—Rabbenu Nissim was an actual religious figure of the eleventh century whose stories of consolation were discovered in the Cairo Genizah, one of the most important historical discoveries of all time—with the fantastic fictional tales crafted by Karimah, Visotzky creates an impassioned portrayal of a time when Jews and Muslims lived together in reasonable harmony.
A professor of rabbinic literature whose active role in Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue has taken him to Rome, Cairo, and Qatar, Dr. Visotzky has spent three decades teaching and researching the stories that make up his novel. Nathan and Janet Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Visotzky has also been a visiting scholar at Oxford University, the University of Cambridge, Union Theological Seminary, the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow, Princeton University, and most recently at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
With Bill Moyers, he developed ten hours of television for PBS for the 1996 series, Genesis: A Living Conversation. He was also a consultant to Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks for the 1998 film Prince of Egypt. The author of eight other books, his articles and reviews have been published in America, Europe, and Israel.
”Visotzky, an educator, rabbi, and author of nine nonfiction books, devoted over two years of scholarly research to the preparation of this debut novel and it shows. Using the Cairo Geniza (an actual storage room where Jews deposited everything written in Hebrew), Visotzky poignantly re-creates a time period in which adventurers, scholars, Jews, and Muslims lived together in relative harmony.” – Library Journal, 1/15/08
“Delightful indeed! An enticing blend of scholarship and imagination. I couldn’t put it down.” – Maggie Anton, author of Rashi’s Daughters
“A ‘delightful’ historical novel, capturing the spirit of this dynamic period: A tale of merchants and scholars, of families, rabbis and students—real and imagined.” – Mark R. Cohen, author of Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages