Dinner at the Center of the Earth Summary
Englander, Nathan

Everything you need to understand or teach Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Englander, Nathan.

  • Dinner at the Center of the Earth Summary & Study Guide

Dinner at the Center of the Earth Overview

In his novel Dinner at the Center of the Earth, Nathan Englander combines the genres of historical fiction and political thriller. This nonlinear narrative tells the stories of a varying cast of characters, who despite their many differences, all discover how interwoven their lives are with those around them. It is primarily written from the third-person omniscient point of view with the main perspective switching between individuals from this large cast of characters. As the novel progresses, sections also switch between the year 2002 and that of 2014. Though the action does not unfold sequentially, the novel ultimately provides a well-rounded portrait of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The narrative follows a character named Z who goes from working as an Israeli operative in 2002 to becoming a secret prisoner of the Israelis. In 2014, Prisoner Z sits in his jail cell while the man who put him there lies in a coma. By the novel’s close, this comatose man, a former prime minister of Israel, dies, leaving Z without hope of escape. Englander explores themes such as power, retribution, trust, cycling, and the “enemy.”

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