About the author: Originally from Buffalo, New York, John Enright holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from the City College of New York and a master’s degree in folklore from the University of California, Berkeley. After working in magazine journalism and book publishing, he left the U.S. to teach at the American Samoa Community College. He remained in the South Pacific for 26 years, directing environmental, cultural, and historical preservation programs and writing extensively about the islands. His acclaimed detective series, Jungle Beat (Thomas & Mercer), featuring Det. Sgt. Apelu Soifua, is set in Samoa. His collection of poems about Samoa, 14 Degrees South, won the University of the South Pacific Press’s inaugural Literature Prize for Poetry in 2011. He now lives in Jamestown, Rhode Island, with his wife, ceramicist Connie Payne. More information about Enright is available on his official website and his Facebook page. He is also sporadically active on Twitter.
About the book: Dominick is always just passing through. He is a professional houseguest who follows the sun and the leisure class from resort to resort. But this winter he lingers on a quaint New England island and in spite of his best intentions becomes involved in the travails of his eccentric geriatric hosts. An environmental protest against a proposed liquid natural gas terminal turns ugly, and by accident and happenstance Dominick becomes a mistaken suspect in terroristic bombings. But the book, of course, is really about its characters. None of them are young—white-bearded men and blue-coiffed women busy with aging, dementia, and ungrateful children. Dominick strives to float above it all in a life of itinerant escape. A New England comedy of sorts, New Jerusalem News, on another level, is an extended meditation on history, identity, and what it means to drift. New Jerusalem News is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Book Depository.
Review: Dominick’s status as an outsider makes him the perfect companion for readers to discover the comings and goings on a quaint New England island, a setting most readers will probably not be familiar with. A well-written and engaging novel, New Jerusalem News sounds at times like one of those oft repeated family stories about a cousin twice removed that both make sense but no one can quite believe actually happened. While there aren’t too many swear words, there are a few sex scenes that are thankfully easy to avoid as the author thankfully does not lend his descriptive talent to them. To everything else though that he does describe, Enright brings to life, making more than one reader shiver when reading about a New England winter and countless others feel sorry for the way things work out for the kind and generous Atticus and Lydia. While there is no obvious lesson the author is trying to give, the story will make readers think of the relationship between family members and the fact that duration of friendship doesn’t necessarily imply a similar level of quality.