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.
“Morrissey summons energy and passion to invest this clash of the old versus the new with an epic quality — and succeeds … the writing is poised, charged and tactile, almost biblical in places.”
The Sunday Times (London)
“…Breathtakingly beautiful…A splendidly unique novel.”
“…an arresting tale, recounted in powerful, lyrical prose.”
“Absorbing human drama, in Morrissey’s best yet.”
Penguin Canada 2005
Hodder&Stoughton UK 2005
W.W. Norton US. 2006
A masterpiece …a powerful tale of two people caught in the upheaval of personal, social, and global change of unimagined proportions.
The time is the 1950s and the place is Canada’s Atlantic coast at the edge of the great Newfoundland fishing banks.
Sylvanus Now is a young fisherman of great charm and strength who hauls in his catch by standing on the gunnels of his boat in a rolling sea, line-jigging for cod. He sun-cures and salts them in time-honored fashion.
His desires are simple; he wants a suit and he knows how much fish he has to catch to pay for it. That suit helps him lure the girl he wants—the fine-boned beauty, Adelaide. But looming on his horizon are menacing fishing trawlers that suck the fish from sea.
This is the love story of Sylvanus Nowand the fiery Adelaide. Despite her hatred of the sea, the fish, and the stultifying community, she seeks refuge from her troubled family with Sylvanus and with the kind, stalwart Edith Now, Sylvanus’s mother.
As we become engrossed in the love story of Addie and Sylvanus with its heartbreaking loss of their babies in childbirth, and the tender renewal of their passion, we are aware that Sylvanus Now’s eternal, beloved sea is on the cusp of cataclysmic change. What choices face them now?
Donna Morrissey, an award-winning author of Kit’s Law and Downhill Chance, grew up in The Beaches, a small fishing outport in Newfoundland. She worked in a fish plant and is an eloquent witness to the stunning collapse of the cod fishery. Critics have compared her rich stories to the works of such writers as Thomas Hardy, Dickens, and Shakespeare. She lives in Halifax.