Yosef and Maryam is a love story. It is a work of fiction based on the historical New Testament characters of Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus. Original Aramaic/Hebrew names are given to all the characters and places, so as to stress their normality. In the New Testament, Joseph is mentioned in but a few sentences, then disappears from the account altogether, without as much as a mere mention of his passing.
The novel tries to fill this gap in with a fictional account that portrays the purely human aspect of these biblical characters: they weren’t born saints, and there wasn’t really any need for them to lead saintly lives. Indeed, it is because they were merely human that they suffered greatly, as God keeps expecting more and more of them. This is particularly so in the case of Joseph, for it is explicit in the New Testament that Mary had a paranormal vision about her forthcoming conception, whereas Joseph only had a dream to go by. Mary was pre-informed, and even asked, whereas Joseph was faced with a fait accompli. There was also a pain-filled interlude between his hearing that his betrothed was pregnant by someone else, and his relief-bestowing dream. Also, he still must have had to live the rest of his life knowing that his first-born was not really his; and this, in a small Middle-Eastern village where it can expected one’s business was everybody’s business.
The novel has a unique form of dramatic irony to it. Many of its readers would be familiar with the events of the New Testament, so they would be aware of what is coming next and of the deeper, symbolic meaning of the scenes events as they unfold.
Yosef and Maryam is a love story also in the sense that it is a story about different types of Love: Romantic Love, Parental Love, Love for one’s neighbour, and Love for God. It explores how these different emotions interact, and poses the question which ought to take precedence, should a choice have to be made. It is a story about the pain that must necessarily accompany all true love: the inevitable concomitant pain of jealousy, worry, fear, and loss.