Searching for Gilead
David G. Hallman
Gilead, a mountainous region east of the Jordan River, means "hill of witness." Searching for Gilead is my attempt to give witness to a series of issues with which I am grappling.
I stumbled onto the name Gilead.
The novel is a story of the interrelationship between two families over a period of three and a half decades—a chronicle of love, laughter, and loss.
Below the story line run difficult questions that don't have an easy resolution, for me at least. Some of these questions are personal and existential. Others are global and systemic.
Friends of mine, aware that I had begun working on a novel, asked what it was about. I didn't know how to respond. I started making a list of the problems that I was trying to address in the novel. I played with various words that would describe those issues. I was looking for an acronym, a shorthand way to capture the range of concerns that was coursing through my head and my heart, and then onto the page. What emerged was G-I-L-E-A-D:
God - issues around spirituality and religion in our lives and in our world.
Injustice - global inequities in power and conflict over resources.
Love — a source of joy and pain for us all.
Environment — threats to the well-being of the Earth and its most vulnerable peoples.
Arts - the role they play as we seek to make sense of our lives and our world.
Death - our own, and that of those we love.
I do not mean to imply that what you hold in your hands is an explicit discussion of these issues. It is not. Searching for Gilead is a story. It's just that I am using the story to think through these issues in my own mind.
I began writing what I would come to call Searching for Gilead within weeks of having finished a memoir, August Farewell. The memoir is, obviously, autobiographical. Searching for Gilead is not. What occurs in the novel, related to the main characters' lives, is a product of my imagination.
Those who know me, and those who have read August Farewell, may see a few parallels between my own personal history and the characters and action in the novel. There will be a temptation to read more into those parallels than is warranted. I caution against it. One of the joys that I am discovering about writing fiction is that I get to make things up. And I have.
David G. Hallman