Resident novel seeks meaning in 9/11 tragedy

By Elaine Hauptman

Resident Writer

The plots of Riderwood resident Jerome Komisar’s novels are remarkably diverse, but all embrace an appreciation of life, and stress humanity’s responsibilities.

His fourth novel, Elijah: A Novel of 9/11, was just published. It tells of the tragedy through the spiritual pilgrimage of Martin Stein. On the eighty-eighth floor of the South Tower on 9/11, Stein promises God that if he survives, he will make a movie that memorializes the day. Years later, Martin is obsessed by his failure to meet his promise. It is then that the Biblical prophet Elijah presents himself. Together, through the discussion of biblical prophesies and humanity’s power to transform the Earth, they attempt to extract guidance and meaning from the destruction of the Towers.

Dr. Komisar has written three other novels. Church of the Hungry: An Alaskan Romance begins in 1937 with a budding artist from Manhattan, Rolland Martin, traveling to Alaska. It follows him from a plane crash in the Alaska wilderness and marriage to a young Yupik shaman (indigenous or aboriginal peoples of western, southwestern, and southcentral Alaska and the Russian Far East), to international fame as a painter. It explores the union of spirituality and creativity.

Another novel, In the Shadow of Dante, A Contemporary Love Story Seven Centuries Old, places the lead character, an artist, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The artist, Elias Miller, who every so often transforms into the persona of the medieval poet, concentrates on depicting Dante’s “Inferno” and “Purgatorio,” but avoids painting Dante’s vision of Heaven, holding the belief that Heaven is what we have on Earth.

In The Last Believer, Benjamin Palmer, a failed financier, is kidnapped on a visit to Kiev, and held captive by an unrepentant Bolshevik, Ilya Petrov. Petrov’s hope to get ransom money for his hostage is thwarted by corrupt Ukrainian politicians. The failures of political and economic systems are highlighted.

Jerome Komisar was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His baccalaureate is from New York University and his doctorate is from Columbia University. Before entering university administration, he taught economics. Jerome and his wife Natalie moved to Washington, D.C. after he retired from the presidency of the University of Alaska system.

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