Stephen March
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Strangers in the Land of Egypt


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Jesse Terrill has reason to be angry. His mother has abandoned him, his brother was murdered by a terrorist, and his father is in the state mental hospital-a victim of a mugger's assault. Arrested for vandalizing a synagogue, Jesse is sentenced to do community service for a Holocaust survivor, Mendel Ebban. Mr. Ebban, was a "stoker" at Treblinka-he separated and prepared bodies for burning. Brilliant, sly and unpredictable, Mr. Ebban, in his turn, tries to deepen Jesse's spiritual awareness of life. At first Jesse fiercely resists Mr. Ebban's efforts. However, as he learns more about the old man's suffering, their relationship becomes deeper, richer, and more nuanced. Jesse's anger and cynicism are rooted in loss, but unlike Mr. Ebban, he lacks faith. Although Jesse is on probation and watched closely by the police, he is determined to find the man who hurt his father. In his quest he becomes caught in a spiritual battle between the old man's near mystical influence and his own obsessive desire for revenge. Strangers in the Land of Egypt has a rich and diverse cast of characters- detectives, bikers, ex-cons, a quirky lawyer, Jesse's uncle G.T., and G.T.'s Mexican girlfriend Rosalita. Jesse's friendship with LaFaye, a young Cajun woman, further complicates his life after he injures her abusive boyfriend in a fight, thereby incurring the wrath of the boyfriend's father, a dangerous former criminal. In order to meet this challenge, and his all-consuming quest to locate and kill the man who hurt his father, Jesse must choose between the world presented by Mr. Ebban's subtle teachings or that of his own impulses, in a riveting and moving parable for our time.

Praise for Strangers in the Land of Egypt

North Carolina writer March (Catbird) has written an accomplished, intricate coming-of-age tale set in a small Southern city where Jesse, the 16-year-old narrator, is always getting into violent scrapes... A likable protagonist, Jesse comes across as a sensitive thinker under his rough upbringing in this well-plotted, well-written solid read.
Publisher's Weekly

(Strangers in the Land of Egypt) is a story told with the fluidity of a moving picture. Its narrative adeptly moves the reader through a series of events that are at once emotional and spiritual in nature, detailing the incidental transformation of Jesse's wounded soul; something that is done with great skill because this transformation is just not that obvious, nor entirely expected.
The Elizabeth City Daily Advance

This novel grabbed me by the shorthairs, dragged me along like a tin can behind a wedding car and left me exhilarated, however bruised-and happy.
Fred Chappell Former NC Poet Laureate, novelist and winner of the 2005 Thomas Wolf Prize


Stephen March was a novelist, short story writer, and songwriter whose work is set in the American South. His published books include Armadillo, a novella; Love to the Spirits, a short story collection; Catbird, a novel; and Strangers in the Land of Egypt, a novel published in May, 2009 by Permanent Press (New York). Armadillo won the Texas Review Press Prize in the Novella. Love to the Spirits won the Independent Publisher Award for Short Fiction 2005, and Catbird was chosen as a Book Sense Notable by the American Booksellers Association. He lived in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, until his death in 2014.



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