Jump to Content

People of Sodom

One day in the summer of 1958, four people come together in a hostel in Sodom on the Dead Sea, a city accursed according to the Bible because of its terrible inhabitants. The characters in the novel are a young Israeli officer named Zvi, 35-year-old Karl from Germany and an American couple, Daniel and Sarah, whose marriage has deteriorated. Their encounter, lasting less than 24 hours, not only reveals fascinating personal stories but becomes a springboard to fundamental questions: the unfinished reckoning between the German people and the Jewish people, the conflict between being an Israeli and being a Jew, Israeli affinity with the country`s recent and remote past and such moral issues as guilt, atonement, loyalty and betrayal. Karl, a former Luftwaffe pilot, comes to Israel to trace the footsteps of his father, who worked in the phosphate factory at Sodom in the 1930s and at the same time served the German Intelligence. He returned to Germany when war broke out, and fell on the Russian front. But Karl`s story is more complex, since he represents the German Christian who seeks to atone for his sins and those of his people. In contrast to him is Zvi, who also carries a burden of sin: as an officer he caused a soldier to be permanently disabled, which led to his own “exile” to Sodom. Zvi, a farmer`s son, feels himself to be completely Israeli but not at all Jewish. Jewish complexes are foreign to him, and sexual tension develops between him and Sarah. While Daniel is listening to Karl`s story, Zvi and Sarah have a passionate sexual encounter in a cave by the Dead Sea. Karl dies that very night – the eventual result of the serious lung injury sustained in his pilot days. Within the novel his stories unravel, one within another, as his father`s letters reveal the story of the Templars, the German Christians who established a number of colonies in Palestine in the latter half of the 19th century.

Title People of Sodom
Writer's Last Name Ben-Ezer
Writer's First Name Ehud
Genre Fiction
Publisher (Hebrew) Am Oved
No. Pages 359pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Anshei Sdom