April 23, 2012
There is an ancient Jewish legend that 36 righteous people in every generation, unknown to the world, to each other and even to themselves, enable the world to continue to exist through their good deeds. The novel 36 is a metaphysical mystery set in the near future, the premise of which is that the legend is literally true and the righteous are being murdered one by one, with catastrophic results for the Jewish people — Israel having been destroyed with nuclear weapons by jihadists — and the world as a whole, which is suffering unending crises from wars and destruction of the environment. Into this near-apocalyptic setting steps Eric Lonnrot, a non-Jewish police detective from the Midwest who carries a terrible burden of guilt for having collaborated with a dictatorship that briefly ruled America, and is determined to redeem himself by finding and rescuing the Righteous. Accompanying him is Nahum Applefeld, a refugee from the destruction of Israel who carries a terrible secret of his own: his yearning for a girl he fell in love with in Israel and never saw again. Lonnrot’s quest for the Righteous, and Nahum’s quest for the girl he once loved, are the engine of the novel.