16 Mar / Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss [in Library Journal]
In Nicole Krauss’s (The Great House) first novel in seven years, two untethered American Jews experience parallel epic quests in Israel. One will die, the other will be transformed. The story is told in alternating chapters, and the pair never meet.
Jules Epstein, a Manhattan lawyer so rich he can hang a “small Matisse” in his closet, at 68 is quickly divesting himself of his wealth. Nicole, who isn’t given a last name (but whose life bears a striking resemblance to Krauss’s), is the mother of two young sons, stagnating in a failed marriage in Brooklyn; she’s convinced visiting the Tel Aviv Hilton of her youth will lift her writer’s block.
Both arrive in Israel seeking: Jules follows an enigmatic rabbi, eventually landing on the set of a King David documentary; Nicole endures a wild chase initiated by her cousin’s alleged professor friend to discover Franz Kafka’s purported Palestinian papers.
With nuanced agility, Gabra Zackman voices the entire cast, matching gender, age, even national and regional accents. Her adaptability grounds Krauss’s often ephemeral, surreal narrative, alchemizing the very “magic of that discordance” that is Krauss’s examination of love, loss, and the fluidity of identity, into accessibly resonating storytelling.
Verdict: Libraries should be well prepared in all formats for devoted patron demand.