Monday, March 31, 2014

Author Interview Arthur Mokin - Meribah

Today I'm very pleased to introduce Arthur Mokin, a gifted documentarian-filmmaker who over a three decade career produced documentary films eighteen of which won major industry awards. He's lately focused his talents to writing historical, literary fiction and is here today to tell us about his latest novel, Meribah.
The interview is timely as the subject of Meribah, The Exodus will be celebrated soon with the festival of Passover.

I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much I as enjoyed doing it and as a result will be as excited to read this novel as I am.


  • ISBN-13: 9781910162163
  • Publisher: Legend Press Ltd
  • Publication date: 1/21/2014
  • Pages: 340

Meribah, a love story set in ancient Egypt is told against the narrative of the Bible's Book of Exodus. A young Egyptian falls in love with a Hebrew slave woman, and follows her and her people as the Israelites flee Egypt and plunge into the desert wilderness. The Egyptian realizes that he must reconcile his own (pagan) beliefs with those of the woman he loves if their love.

Please welcome multi-award winning documentarian/author Arthur Mokin

Arthur, welcome to The Reading Frenzy
Thank you, good to be here.

Tell my readers a little about Meribah
Meribah is set in pharaonic Egypt, just prior to the Israelite exodus from that country, and Meribah is based on the biblical Exodus story.  

A young Egyptian falls in love with a Hebrew slave woman.  He follows her and her people as the Israelites flee Egypt and plunge into the desert wilderness.  Along with the children of Israel, the Egyptian experiences many of the defining moments of western civilization including the encounter with God at Mount Sinai.  The Egyptian realizes that if his love for the Hebrew woman is to be consummated, he must adopt the faith of her people.  Therein lie the conflict and the tale.

Was there a particular reason you chose now to tell this story?
For some time I have mused on the fact that we live in an age of marches -- marches for freedom, marches for civil rights, marches for gender equality, etcetera.  The question occurred: Were there any historic marches of significance?  And the answer came with a resounding yes!:  the Exodus, the Israelite march for freedom, which the Huffington Post called, "one of the most consequential events in all of human history." Jews celebrate the event every year in the holiday of Passover.  As a writer, I felt this was a story that had to be retold for its contemporary significance.

The tale is told from the perspective of an Egyptian.
Why did you choose this person to be the voice of your novel?
At its intellectual core, Meribah is a work of comparative religion.  Except for a faithful few, notably Moses, Aaron, and Miryam, Judaism is on trial.  Time after time we hear the people complain that the sacrifices they are asked to make in the name of Judaism are too onerous.  I needed one coherent voice to humanize the sentiments of the people, one who would come to the task with a certain innocence, even skepticism, with regard to Judaism.  The Egyptian fills that role, given his background in a polytheistic and animistic tradition.

The Exodus is at the very beginning of the Jewish story and yet there are biblical scholars that say it didnt happen to the extent its recounted in the Bible.
What do you say to these nay-sayers?
 One can't prove or disprove the historicity of the Bible; and I'm not sure that it matters.  I believe that so-called truth notwithstanding, the Bible has served us very well by providing a world view, a way to live, a standard for behavior.

Arthur this is my favorite kind of historical literary novel, one thats infused with fiction and reality. In fact Im sure Id have been a better history student if I had learned it this way.
What is it about history that intrigues you?
Someone, I don't know who, said, "The past is prologue."  The French say, "The more things change, the more they remain the same."  So history gives us a way to deal with the present and the future.  We are not clueless.  We're acquainted with some of the options.  And then history is great literature;  I am fascinated by the way people respond to situations.

Arthur youve received many awards for your 26 years of documentary filmmaking.
Was becoming a novelist a natural progression from filmmaking?
If not what led you on this writing path?
I've always been a writer first.  I went into film because of my responsibility as a family man.  There was no way, I thought, I could make a living off my writing when I was a young man.  Film offered a way to be creative and pay the rent.

In a previous interview you say your academic background is rather scanty.
How much do you think your life experience adds to that background?
I have an A.B. degree in English, a fairly decent foundation in the liberal arts.  Those four years acquainted me with areas of learning, gave me direction, and taught me how to learn.  That's about it.  Actual learning, for me, came after formal education.  But really the process is seamless.  One doesn't really know where one leaves off and the other begins.  

Arthur youve gotten some rave reviews for this piece of historical fiction
Kirkus says
beautifully conceived
How important are reviews to you?
 From the point of view of marketing and selling your book, reviews are simply, everything.  They give you a megaphone.  The system is arbitrary and sometimes heartbreaking, but it is what it is.

Arthur I personally cant wait to open this novel and I thank you for spending some time chatting with me today.
Good luck with the novel!!
Thank you.  It was my pleasure.

"(Mokin's) clear style and beautifully conceived rendition of the characters-particularly Miryam and Aharon-are sure to draw readers into the world... any (readers) with an interest in biblical studies or the history of Egypt, the Middle East, and the children of Israel will find much to absorb. A tale of the Exodus that brings
Israel's prophet and people to life."
-Kirkus Reviews
I've just finished reading Meribah, a short, remarkable and eminently readable novel based on one of the most consequential events... in all of human history, the Exodus. The escape of the ancient Jews from slavery in Egypt and their subsequent 40 years of wandering in the desert, makes for one of the most spectacular stories ever told...
Meribah is a love story set in the wider Exodus narrative. A young
Egyptian falls in love with (a) Hebrew slave woman...and follows her and the Jewish people as they flee Egypt...What's important is that Meribah is much more than a love story. It's a fascinating meditation on great questions of morality and religion...
-The Huffington Post
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Mokin's writing is clear, clean and addictive. His interpretation of the Exodus story is fascinating...
Meribah is a great read.
-Deborah Green, Assoc. Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature, University of Oregon

Arthur's other published novel


  1. Oh that sounds so interesting! Thanks for the intro Debbie!

    1. I can't wait to read this one Anna.
      Hey thanks for the comment

  2. How interesting an insightful. Honestly,I would have never though of picking up a book like this. Mainly because I'd have though it was just a religious book, not that I have anything against that, but frankly, that's far from what I normally read, I preferred my reads a lot more otherworldly. But I love reading romances, not matter the circumstances or the period they are set on. I really think I can enjoy this.
    Great questions and anwsers!
    Thank you for sharing :)

    1. Thank You Loupe, it's sort of karma that I meet and interview certain authors and like you would never have chosen on my own. Thanks for the comment! If you do pick it up let us know what you think :)

  3. Loved the interview, interesting stuff. I love the setting, and history of this tale. Thanks so much for sharing it with us today.

    1. Kim this is so up my eclectic alley. Now to just find some time!!! LOL