Infinity In The Palm of Her Hand

Written by Gioconda Belli (trans. Margaret Sayers Peden)
Review by Susanne Dunlap

Gioconda Belli’s daring feat of climbing inside the world of Adam and Eve, from their creation through the fall and toward a dawn of civilization, makes an extraordinary read. Her roots as a poet are amply evident, even in translation, as she constructs a Blakean idyll that is both nostalgic and horrifying. She makes Adam and Eve into real characters nonetheless, and deals with the issue of primacy between them and their roles in the fall very imaginatively.

One of her most seductive characters is the serpent, who is not cast as completely evil, and who is Eve’s window into the invisible God who created their paradise and then flung them out of it—because Eve ate of the tree of knowledge. No apples here, just figs.

Time is compressed in this slim volume, which takes us all the way to Cain’s slaying of Abel. The rich language is never ponderous, and despite the fact that we all know what happens, Belli keeps us engaged in her story, using words like a magical slide that, once you begin the descent, will not let you off until it ends.

Most fascinating to me is the way she neatly leads us from the Creationist view of the origin of mankind to a place where the door to Darwinism is wide open. This fast, delicious book is a highly recommended read.