Complex and interesting from a Norfolk native

by | Oct 20, 2014 | Book Reviews

Father, Son, Stone
Allan H. Goodman
Solomon Publications, 2014
463 pp., $18.99
ISBN 978-0-9670973-6-7

So, what does a Norfolk kid who graduated from Granby High School, practiced law for 18 years and served as a federal administrative judge for a couple of decades do in his spare time?

He writes an enormously complex and interesting historical novel, of course. One might say it is in his genes. Author Goodman’s father, Lenny Goodman, of blessed memory, former Maury High School and University of Virginia baseball star, covered high school sports for the Ledger Dispatch. However, he is no doubt better remembered as the CEO of Shoney’s of Tidewater and as the beloved lay leader for 20 years at Beth Sholom Home of Eastern Virginia.

Considering the fact that East Jerusalem is in the news as Jewish “settlers” have moved into buildings in a neighborhood that is mainly Arab, reading Father, Son, Stone will provide an excellent historic background for such current events.

For those unfamiliar with East Jerusalem or the Sons of Ishmael or Yeshua Bar-Yosef (among many other places, events, and people), Father, Son, Stone will be a first-rate learning experience. For those who have been to Jerusalem, memories of the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock, al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Kotel will provide “illustrations” for Goodman’s book.

This is an historical novel in every sense of the genre (just check the bibliography) with both fictional and non-fictional characters and events (clearly explicated at the end of the book). However, to ensure that his intentions are perfectly clear, Goodman has an important fictional character comment, “History is a mixture of what is remembered, forgotten, hidden, and confused.”

The book opens in the future, year 2035, as the narrator, Nuri ibn Hamid, begins describing his 90-year-old grandfather unfolding a perplexing story to him when he was 18 years old. Goodman has created an historical mystery that, though complex, moves smoothly backward and forward from the seventh century, cleverly weaving the fictional and historical— replete with events (and characters) with which we should all be familiar.

Considering current events, we should all look forward to the realization, expressed in the Afterword, of Goodman’s “hope and belief that people can live together in peace, despite their difference.”

—Hal Sacks is a retired Jewish communal worker who has reviewed books for Jewish News for more than 30 years.

Father, Son, Stone will be on sale at the Simon Family JCC Book Festival.