Journalists death brings desolation to family in moving novel World Without You

There’s nothing like a novel set in the recent past to remind you of how quickly things change. In 2005, if a novelist had published a book that hinged on the murder of a Jewish American journalist by Islamic terrorists in Iraq, it would have been read as a political novel, a war novel, a post-9/11 novel — and, of course, a roman a clef about Daniel Pearl, who died in 2002 in Pakistan.

Seven years later, Joshua Henkin has published just such a book in “The World Without You,” which is set in 2005 on the anniversary of the murder of Leo Frankel, whose story closely mirrors Pearl’s. The passage of time has made it possible for Henkin to turn this headline-news premise into a book that is quiet, inward turning, and largely apolitical.

Henkin will speak in the Bay Area July 11-15.

The fictional Frankel’s death is alluded to but never actually described; the particular reasons for his murder matter less than the void it has left in the lives of his family. That void, not Iraq or terrorism or anti-Semitism, is Henkin’s real subject.

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Local talks

Joshua Henkin will discuss his book and read from it during a promotional swing through the Bay Area:

7:30 p.m. July 11 at The Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., San Francisco,

7:30 p.m. July 12 at Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave., Berkeley,

1 p.m. July 13 at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera,

1:30 p.m. July 15 at the BJE Jewish Community Library, 1835 Ellis St., San Francisco, (415) 567-3327 ext. 703