Literature about the wise men from the east is wide and varied. The first three, bearing gold, frankincense, and myrrh, arrived a few years late. A fourth, after a trek of thirty-three years, arrived just moments before Jesus died on the cross. The fifth, the subject of this novel, arrived early, just moments after Mary of Nazareth conceived. At that time the world was thought to be at peace, and well it may have been, but it was a total and absolute mess. It is through this mess, and with clouds as uncertain guides, that Dill of the Nile slogged, from Babylon to Nazareth, in hope of finding a celebrity birth. Instead he found himself bewildered and exhausted and was about to turn back when he heard a scream and saw a young woman running toward him….
The novel is about the trip in 50 chapters, a perilous passage during which Dill finds himself in desperate situations with disparate characters. Along the way there is much satire about things old and new; a history of comedy, mainly Jewish; a conversion from many gods to one God; a critique of atheism and atheists; a love story between Dill and his wife, lasting ten years after her murderous death; a region occupied by the Roman Empire and ruled by a client king; rare moments of reverence and piety; a jaunty text in several languages. In the end the novel has everything but elephants, and that would include two unusual camels. Dill of the Nile is a modern novel about ancient events that seem to have occurred last week, last month, last year. It’s meant to entertain, even though it makes a point or two along the way. Caution. This is not a children’s book; it’s for adults only.