Cain and Abel, The Rumpus

July 27, 2016

Barbara Buchanan and I go deep into the Cain and Abel story: "I read the story of Cain and Abel closely, using the Jewish Publication Society of America translation, and studied the midrash on the text. The language is so rich and layered, from “Am I my brother’s keeper?” to “You shall be more cursed than the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.” The story in the Torah is short but its power resonates throughout our literature and our culture.

In The Mercy Journals, I sewed in references to Cain and Abel throughout the text. At one point, when Leo, the long-lost, nihilistic brother of my main character, Allen Quincy, returns, Allen says wryly, “I suppose that means I have to keep you?” The earth drinking blood, also an image I use at least twice. The final scene, which I cannot give away, reenacts Cain going out to the field.

What I wanted to do in this novel was bookend the Cain and Abel story with a metaphorical last murder, as opposed to the first murder, to write the murder of Cain by Abel, a closing of the circle."


"Casper’s scenario expands upon the lifeboat ethics question. What should and would people do in order to survive when resources are limited? What inherent savageries do we reveal when faced with threat of extinction? What do we evolve or devolve into when it is me versus thee?" - Amina Gautier

The future through the lens of Cain and Abel, and a place at the table at The