Reading Group Guide A Note from the Author
The idea of writing a book set in Jerusalem came to me when I first saw the city in 1985 after doing a travel article set in Egypt. I returned, and in 1992 visited Gaza and the West Bank and witnessed some of the disorders attendant on the intifada,
the struggle that had been in progress for five years against the Israeli military administration. As a result of that trip, I set the action of the book in the spring and summer of 1992, with most events taking place in Jerusalem, as well as Tel Aviv, the Gaza Strip and Galilee.
In Damascus Gate
I've tried to use a highly charged setting as a background for a story that juxtaposes personal and national dilemmas and conflicts. Jerusalem, with its mystery, timelessness and sacred warren of shrines, relics and commemorative sites, is impinged on by the modern world. Ancient conflicts are carried on with late-twentieth-century weapons and techniques. Pilgrims of all sorts continue to descend on the city as the millennium approaches, obsessed with hopes and illusions that for some are deeply intimate and others hope to project on a vast scale. Frequently the pilgrims become caught up in the ongoing quarrels of the city, sometimes as opportunists, enthusiasts or mere pawns.
Jerusalem is a city in which past, present and future seem to coexist in a way that has no parallel elsewhere. Unlike those of the ancient Greek cities or Rome, its crumbling