Thursday, January 31, 2008

"The Jewel Trader of Pegu"

Jeffrey Hantover has written on social issues, art, and culture for publications in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Jewel Trader of Pegu, and reported the following:
I assure the readers of the Page 69 Test that I didn’t cheat on this exam and structure my novel so that a critical – if not the most critical – plot point comes smack at the top of page 69. But there it is like banner ad for the site: “What I feared has happened. Win has asked me again to deflower a bride.” The novel’s protagonist, Abraham, a Jewish jewel trader from Venice, has come to the Burmese empire of Pegu at the end of the 16th to buy precious stones. Unawares he has moved into a house once occupied by another Italian trader who embraced the Peguan practice of foreigners initiating brides on their wedding nights. Earlier in the novel, Abraham, shocked and offended, had rebuffed a bride brought to his home by his Peguan jewel broker, Win. We learn on page 69 that his one refusal has been turned into many by gossiping women in the market, making him a saint in their eyes and intensifying the demand for his services.

I would hope that a reader intrigued by this page will continue not out of any prurient interest in the possibility of torrid sex, but would be drawn to Abraham’s dilemma, as I was, and would want to explore the moral conflict between the law – in his case, religious – and the heart. Moving on, the reader will find not a succession of soft-core deflowerings but rather a series of moral choices Abraham faces as he moves from passive observer of life to an engaged actor. Page 69 is just the beginning of choices he faces that will transform his life and impel the novel forward. Dear reader rejoice, like Abraham, the choice is yours.
Read an excerpt from The Jewel Trader of Pegu, and learn more about the author and his work at Jeffrey Hantover's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue