Chains of Sand is a novel about identity, family, and clashes of culture. He has always been good at tracking down things that are hidden, like cockroaches in his mother s kitchen cupboard, or tunnels in Gaza. At 26, Udi is a veteran of the Israeli army and has killed five men. He wants a new life in a new place. He has a cousin in England. Daniel is 29, a Londoner, an investment banker and a Jew. He wants for nothing, yet he too is unable to escape an intangible yearning for something more. And for less. He looks to Israel for the answer. But as the war with Hamas breaks out, Daniel cannot know that the star-crossed love of a Jewish girl and an Arabic man in Jerusalem a decade earlier, will soon complicate all that he thinks has become clear.
Guest Post: Jemma on writing Chains of Sand
Back in 2006, two things happened: My husband’s twenty-something IDF-veteran cousin moved to London, while the same month one of my close British friends moved to Israel. The flow of humanity is always intriguing to me and I wanted to know why, what was propelling these converse journeys? I asked a lot of annoying questions! Then the second thing happened – Israel’s war with Lebanon. The media circus around this was hysterical, and irresponsible. There was an eager conflation of ‘Israeli’ and ‘Jew’. Londoners protested under banners declaring ‘We are all Hizbullah now’. And it was the first time I had ever felt uncomfortable being Jewish in Britain. This is when I began writing around what would eventually become Chains of Sand. But it wasn’t until 2014 that I returned to these ideas in earnest.
In 2014 Israel was at war with Hamas. Now, Gazan children were dying on beaches, and Gazan hospitals were lying in ruins, and Israelis were running to shelters. Now in London, the banners read: ‘Hamas, Jews to Gas’, and ‘Hitler was right’. Now Jewish shops and goods and people were boycotted and attacked. Now the zeitgeist was that this was ok. And more than anything, now, on both ‘sides’ there was a growing triumphalism I hadn’t seen before, a stubborn single-mindedness about the truth of their argument, the justifications of their side, losing all empathy for the other, all ability to judge one’s own morality. Everything was black and white. And dangerous. Because the grey is where the truth lies. And the hope, too.
Chains of Sand is an exploration into the grey. An attempt to illuminate the grief and longing, the hope and despair, the love and hatred, the conflicted, complicated truths that exist on all sides, and all too often collide.
Jemma Wayne graduated from Cambridge University with an academic scholarship for her achievements in Social and Political Sciences, and went on to obtain her PGDIP in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Westminster before becoming a journalist and writer.
Working first as a reporter at The Jewish Chronicle and later as a columnist for The Jewish News, she is now a regularly featured blogger at The Huffington Post and continues to contribute to various publications including The Evening Standard, The Independent on Sunday, Standard Issue and The Jewish Quarterly, amongst others.
Jemma’s first full-length work, Bare Necessities – a tongue-in-cheek guide to being a grownup – was published by Piatkus Books in 2004. Her play, Negative Space, ran at The New End Theatre, Hampstead, in 2009 to critical acclaim. And her short stories have appeared in a variety of publications including Ether Books, 33 West by Limehouse Books, and Kerouac’s Dog Magazine.
Jemma’s first novel, After Before, was published by Legend Press in 2014. It was short-listed for the 2015 Waverton Good Read Award, long-listed for the Guardian’s 2014 Not the Booker Prize and for the 2015 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, formerly the Orange Prize. Her second novel, Chains of Sand, will be published by Legend Press on the 1st June 2016.