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September 19, 2003 - Image 103

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Wilson also was drawn to the real-life
story of David Bomberg, a British
painter who spent time in Palestine in
1924. The character Bloomberg is loose-
ly based on Bomberg.
'All these elements began to merge
and form and get shaken up in my imag-
ination, and they came out as the novel,"
the author said.
Wilson is a novelist with an eye for
rich historical detail, whether the brands
of cigarettes people smoked, or the place-
ment of traffic lights in 1920s Jerusalem.
His writing is highly visual and tactile,
with a painterly quality
He says that he almost had to forget
everything he knows so well about con-
temporary Jerusalem in order to write
The Palestine Affair. But, he points out,
"some things are unchanged, like the
flora, the weather, sounds and smells."
The 53-year old author, who grew up
in northwest London, first traveled to
Israel the year after the Six-Day War and
worked on a kibbutz. "That was trans-
formative for me, the beginning of my
profound relationship with Israel," he
said.
He was seduced by the place not so
much for ideological reasons but for aes-
thetic ones.
Wilson left London for New York in
1976, and spent a year working there
before heading off to teach at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The
central Jerusalem apartment where he
lived — in an old stone house with a
beautiful garden — appears in his books.
He came back to the U.S. in 1981,
moved to Boston with his wife and even-
tually became an American citizen.
Does he think of himself as a Zionist?
"If Zionism means supporting the
notion that a Jewish state should exist,
then yes, absolutely," Wilson said. "If
Zionism means embracing the notion of
annexing the West Back and Gaza, then
no.
When asked about how becoming an
American citizen affected his Jewish .
identity, he pauses, and then recalls his
reaction when he first came to New York
in 1976.
"I felt like I had never seen Jewish peo-
ple enjoying themselves so much before.
I was very happy to join the party
"On a more serious level, I felt in some
way more relaxed about my Jewishness
in America and in Israel than I ever felt
in England."
Wilson says that people often ask him
about when and why he decided to leave
Israel.
"I've been living in Boston for 22
years," he said, "and I still haven't decid-
ed to leave Israel."

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