by Joe Cohen


Paperback / $14 / ISBN-13: 978-1-58790-138-6 / 102 pages / 5.5” x 8.5”


Fiction / Novel


Wandering Cain picks up the strands of the bible story of Cain and Abel and explores the psychological consequences of the first fratricide on Cain, and on humankind in general, as the book moves through time. From the Land of Nod, Cain is projected into history, where he encounters, among others, stone-age people, Jesus, Hitler, a mysterious psychoanalyst, an opera diva, and ultimately, himself.


 We’ve heard from this ancient tale many times over, from the myth of the Wandering Jew, to Steinbeck’s East of Eden, and its import never fades, in a world where humans routinely and perpetually slaughter other humans.


 The author confines his exploration to the relatively brief space of a novella, just as the Bible story is confined to only half a page. To continually zap the reader with one florid exploit after another would have plunged the story into melodramatic schtick, where instead we are offered humor, compassion, drama, and awareness of the lightness, darkness and strangeness of existence.


Cain and the characters he encounters in his wanderings are drawn succinctly, with deft strokes, allowing the reader to flesh them out in his own imagination from his own depth. The ending comes as a surprise, singing a song of time, turning the tables on “endings” as we usually understand them.


Joe Cohen lives in Emeryville, California, and substitute teaches in Oakland high schools. He has been a newspaper reporter, paratrooper, truck driver, gambling shill, billboard poster, meditation teacher, father, world traveler, and appreciator of fine women. Wandering Cain is his sixth novel. Others are Billboards, The Mystery of Eve, Oakland Gimmer, and The Minefield, all published by Regent Press. The Time of Pedro, a novel yet unpublished, was awarded a fellowship grant from the California Creative Arts Council. He has also authored WELL, a book of poetry, and a screenplay for a Hollywood producer. He says he was inspired to write Wandering Cain because of his puzzlement over two aspects of the bible story: Why did God prefer the offering of one son over the other, and what and where, actually, was Nod?

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