In 701 B.C. the Assyrian empire was in its ascendancy. It had already vanquished the kingdom of Israel to the north including the capital at Samaria. It then prepared an assault on Judah and its capital at Jerusalem.
But in one of those significant events that changes the course of world history, Assyria was repelled. Jerusalem was saved until 586 B.C. when the Babylonians sacked the city, forcing its leadership class into exile.
Henry Aubin, in a major feat of scholarship, determines that Jerusalem was aided by a Kushite army from Africa which had marched northeast from the Nile valley. While the Bible attributes the Assyrian retreat to an angel and secular commentators cite pestilence, Aubin, in a meticulously documented work, demonstrates that an alliance with the African nation of Kush bolstered Jerusalem’s defences.
Kush, also known as Nubia, was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan. A monarchy that existed for more than 1000 years, from 900 B.C. to A.D. 350, Kushites held sway over Egypt from 712 B.C. to about 660 B.C. Of Egypt’s 31 dynasties, this, the 25th Dynasty, is the only one that all scholars agree, was black.
The commander of the Kushite expeditionary force was Taharqa (or as the Bible calls him Tirhakah). This Kushite prince, who had his own interests in halting Assyrian expansion, likely caught the aggressors by surprise as they prepared their siege of Jerusalem.
Aubin offers a thrilling military history and a stirring political analysis of the ancient world. He also sees the event as influential over the centuries.
The Kushite rescue of the Hebrew kingdom of Judah enabled the fragile, war-ravaged state to endure, to nurse itself back to economic and demographic health, and allowed the Hebrew religion, Yahwism, to evolve within the next several centuries into Judaism. Thus emerged the monotheistic trunk supporting Christianity and Islam.
Donna Morrissey grew up in the Beaches, a small fishing outport in Newfoundland. Her four previous, award-winning novels, drawing on her roots in that rich and rocky terrain, have been bestsellers in Canada and published in several languages, including German, Japanese, Swedish and Italian. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“Donna Morissey is one of our country’s finest writers. And The Fortunate Brother might very well be her most powerful novel to date. An intimate study of family, a murder mystery, a love song to a people and to what home truly means, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.”
“It’s cultivated insularity feels outside time. Morrissey is a terrific mood-setter, something she does not via political, stylistic, or cultural references but through the expertly rendered dialogue.”
The Globe and Mail
Penguin Canada Fall 2016
The Fortunate Brother
Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Fiction 2017
Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award 2017
“Her writing has what Chekhov called an indispensable layering of fact and feeling,” said author Howard Norman, one of her fans which include Thomas Keneally, Vincent Lam, and Alistair MacLeod.
With The Fortunate Brother Donna Morrissey surpasses her previous accomplishments. We once again see the full range of human longing, redemption and exultation through life in a remote fishing village in the North Atlantic. Here, great environmental and technological disruptions shake both land and society. The fish are gone, taking livelihood too. It is a real place but it takes on a mythic timelessness in Morrissey’s powerful story which weaves love, grief and murder.
Kyle Now, the 20-year old youngest son of Sylvanus and Addie, is a charming, popular young man. With the tragic death of his brother Chris who perished in a violent explosion in the western oil fields, Kyle feels that it is his responsibility to shoulder the family burdens. His mother, the family’s tower of strength, is undergoing cancer treatment, while his father Sylvanus takes refuge in drinking.
Threatening their fragile balance are two men who menace the community. One is the feral Trap who is suspected of causing Chris’s death in the oil sands. The other is Clar Gillard, the abusive husband of Addie’s friend Bonnie. Clar’s vicious insanity was glimpsed when he tied Bonnie to a chair and sprayed her with oven cleaner.
Kyle and his father have a nasty altercation with Clar Gillard and when he is found dead on their doorstep, they are suspects in his murder. Desperately, father and son struggle to protect the other from arrest and to hide their danger from Addie.
Even tiny, isolated communities harbor secrets, newcomers and outsiders who create turmoil in the social dynamic. Even here there are police seeking to re-establish order. With such simple materials Donna Morrissey has fashioned a breathtaking masterpiece, taut with suspense and infused with compassion.