This gripping tale starts with the psychotic delirium of Cain in the primaeval desert of what will later become the Holy Land. Cain’s mind is dominated by an old man only he can see, and who condones his psychopathic behaviour, eventually leading him to fratricide and setting the stage for the novel which is based on the duplicity and indivisibility of good and evil. Cain’s revulsion at what he has done sets off the conflict between what he feels is right and what he knows is wrong, and the old man in his mind pronounces a curse of immortality on Cain’s head by which he will never know peace or rest, but will be destined to roam the world for all eternity unless he can undo the evil he has authored. Cain’s immortality means that the old man, his schizophrenic alter ego, also becomes immortal.
Soon, however, Cain is no longer the only one to believe in the old man and others start to exploit him to lend credence to their claims, both for the good of their peers and the damnation of their enemies. The old man inspires the foundation of three great monotheistic religions, in a way that retells a very old story in a very new way. All three religions are subject to the good in men’s hearts and the evil in their souls as the plot takes us through four millennia of history, from the desert to the Galilee, to Rome and the Crusades, returning via the Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust and the Cold War to a nascent state in the Promised Land in which uninspired men are about to repeat the mistakes of the past in the name of God and for the sake of greed.
Finally good sense prevails; religious fundamentalism is debunked and the two warring factions, enemies for four thousand years but brothers since the beginning of time, agree to settle their differences with neither deference to nor interference from the god who was invented to separate them, but with the help of a Franciscan monk who perhaps is more than he seems.
The Tears of Aisha is a story that intends neither to preach nor predicate; its cultural criticism aims to be provocative without being judgmental, and above all seeks to stimulate the reader to reflect on the relationship between thought and belief, and how they affect the way we interact with our fellow man.
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