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The Unlikely Blessings of Living on Borrowed Time in a Leased Land 417

crime, has also come face to face with his own blindness; that is, his

inability to see the real murderer from the beginning. As Theodore

Martin puts it, the “detective novel is haunted by disappointment”

(2012: 168) as the detective reader discovers by the end of the novel

that the “mysteries are not solved by logic and deduction but by

some capricious, unforeseeable interpretative leap” (167). In the

counterfactual scenario, the detective reader is haunted by surprises

and disappointments, the surprises that the final revelation exceeds

the reader’s expectation and the disappointments that, even though

the murder case is solved, the real culprit responsible for the murder

is still at large, and ready to wreak further havoc. As Martin aptly

puts it, “by preventing apocalypse, [Landsman the detective]

transforms the end of his narrative into a nonevent, the perfect

absence of any climax” (169).

As a detective, Landsman is also a reader competent in puzzling

together random clues, but in becoming obsessed with the case he is

investigating, he performs “a ‘strong misreading’ we might say

performed by one who feels singled out, addressed by it” (Santer,

2001: 132-133). In a similar vein, in investigating Mendel’s death,

Landsman comes face to face with that which has agitated within

every wandering Jew

their exclusive entitlement to the land of

Palestine as justified by God's promise

and that which has agitated

within every Jewish American

Jewish immigrants’ claim to

American citizenship. It is this dream to which they have long been

passionately attached, and the insubstantiality of it which has kept

them biopolitically entrapped and psychically agitated. Mendel’s

death makes it impossible for Landsman to run from his own psychic

agitation and his investigation activates in him a “miraculous”

disidentification with both the ideologies of Jewish and American

exceptionalism, so that he begins to see in his otherwise banal and

meaningless life multiple meanings. It is fair, thus, for us to say that

it is due to Landsman’s strong misreading of Mendel’s death that

Mendel is retroactively made into a Messiah, if not of his generation,

then at least for Landsman. Misreading, in other words, is implicitly