Published 15 May 2014
Length 191 pages
"I am convinced," says Jake Silkstone, the hypochondriac narrator of Clive Sinclair’s still provocative novel, "that if Rabbi Nathan hadn’t tried to rape Helga, our German au pair, during the course of my barmitzvah celebrations at the Café Royal on the evening of 21 May 1961, things would have turned out very differently...."
In the event, “things”, as far as Jake is concerned, have been turning out differently since long before the night of Rabbi Nathan’s folly. Sharing a birthday with a the modern State of Israel, son of the man whose deep-penetration passes on the football field are rumoured to have inspired the guerrilla warfare tactics of Orde Wingate, chief fan and chronicler of the all-Jewish Wingate Football Club, adolescent blackmailer of the desirable Helga, and latterly literary editor of the Jewish Voice – Jake Silkstone’s life has been marked by the finger of destiny, if not by the finger of the Lord.
As things progress from worse to terrible in a world only slightly madder than our own, Jake Silkstone becomes the unwitting cause of the Israeli invasion of the Lebanon and finally victim of a blood libel – the accusation of ritual murder, England’s special contribution to antisemitism. Clive Sinclair’s dazzling, funny and ultimately serious novel reaches a climax that launches the reader into vertiginous orbit spinning between the twin suns of fiction and reality.
“In Blood Libels, Clive Sinclair has assembled the Jewish anomaly: at odds with the Old Judaism, ambivalent towards the new Zionism. The old and new mythologies about Jewishness produce an irreconcilable conflict: within Jacob Silkstone, in the State of Israel and throughout the world. More funny than sad, more ironic than tragic, the novel presents the story, rather than the history, of statelessness.”
“The blurred sense of where reality begins and fantasy stops (or vice versa) gives Blood Libels an immediacy and an edge that stimulates the reader’s imagination... The novel cracks with fast, funny, farcical incidents, accidents, coincidences, and inconsequential events which nevertheless, hang together monstrously to change the world.”
About Clive Sinclair
Clive Sinclair is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and holds a doctorate from the University of East Anglia. He has taught there and also at the University of Uppsala, and the University of California at Santa Cruz, where his son was born. In 1983 he was selected as one of the original Best of Young British Novelists. He lives in London with the artist, Haidee Becker.