She’s right. You can’t beat the Old Testament for story. For shocking twists. For things that make me gasp.
For example, having finished Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua, I’m now in Judges where those Israelites have been told to basically divide and conquer everything in their path. Here’s Jephthah, the illegitimate son of Gideon, who’s begged by his brothers to lead them against the Ammonites.
And what does he do? He promises the Lord to offer as a burnt sacrifice the first thing that comes out of his house if the Lord should deliver the enemy into his hands. (What, are you stupid?)
When he returns home victorious, out of his house comes his daughter, his only child, with tambourines and dancing. She pleads with him to let her have two months in the mountains to mourn her virginity, and then she dies at her father’s hand to fulfill his promise to the Lord.
It then became a custom that the young women of Israel honor the daughter of Jephthah for four days each year.
So far, I have read of a daughter sacrificed by her father (Judges 11:29-40), a talking donkey (Numbers 22-24), a fortified city coming down with trumpet blasts (Joshua 6), a dry fleece surrounded by dewy ground (Judges 6) and all this is only in three books. When I’m tempted to think that Murakami is fanciful, I have to remember that the stories of the Old Testament seem awfully strange to me, too. Holy, but strange.