Daniel Silva, author of The Fallen Angel, the latest novel featuring Gabriel Allon, art restorer and retired Israeli spy, will be at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. for a conversation about the novel with Rabbi David Wolpe.
Last week, Hugh Hewitt broadcast a two-hour interview with Silva; the interview preceded the terrorist attack in Bulgaria on Israeli tourists, but is particularly relevant and important in light of it. The transcript is here.
Here is the first paragraph of the new novel:
It was Niccolò Moretti, caretaker of St. Peter’s Basilica, who made the discovery that started it all. The time was 6:24 a.m., but owing to a wholly innocent error of transcription, the Vatican’s first official statement incorrectly reported it as 6:42. It was one of numerous missteps, large and small, that would lead many to conclude the Holy See had something to hide, which was indeed the case. The Roman Catholic Church, said a noteworthy dissident, was but one scandal away from oblivion. The last thing His Holiness needed now was a dead body in the sacred heart of Christendom.
It is the body of a beautiful woman, a curator in the Vatican. The Pope’s private secretary concludes that there will have to be two investigations, one for public consumption and the other for his own. To conduct the private one, he calls on Gabriel Allon, “a man much like himself. A fallen angel in black. A sinner in the city of saints.”
The Hewitt interview is worth reading in its entirety. Here is an interesting excerpt:
HH: You were a reporter, for the benefit of our audience, before you were a novelist. When you were a reporter, and you started to pick up the pen and start to write your first book, did you think that you would end up being involved in the history of the state of Israel to the extent that the Gabriel Alon books have made you?
DS: No. I did not. In fact, Gabriel was not supposed to be a continuing character. … He was at the second tier. And then as I got into the book and started working, he just took it over. And by the time I finished that novel, I knew that I’d created a special character, but my instincts told me that there was, you know, far too much anti-Israel sentiment in the world, far too much anti-Semitism, frankly, for an Israeli character to ever work in a truly mass market way. And thank goodness, a very smart woman named Phyllis Graham, who was then the publisher of Putnam, told me that I was wrong.
HH: Boy, were you ever wrong. Is there any way to communicate to the audience how commercially successful this is, because it’s what, thirty countries around the world that carry it?
DS: It is. It is at least that, and I think that, and countries that are frankly not friendly to the state of Israel. I think that there are just certain universalities to Gabriel Alon’s story that make him attractive to a wide audience. And I do do things in the types of stories that I tell, and the way that I tell them, to make it work for a broad audience. But I’m stunned by it. No one is more surprised to see Gabriel Alon at the top of the bestseller list than I am.