Tag Archives: Literary Fiction

Review: Judas

Judas

Judas
By Amos Oz
Mariner Books, 9781328745491, November 2017, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Really made me think about religion in general. Was Judas a hero? In this book, Oz poses the question.

The Rest of It:

This was a book club pick. Going into it, I had few expectations because I really didn’t know much about it. I have to say, this was probably a good thing.

Jerusalem, 1959. Shmuel Ash, a biblical scholar, is adrift in his young life when he finds work as a caregiver for a brilliant but cantankerous old man named Gershom Wald. There is, however, a third, mysterious presence in his new home. Atalia Abravanel, the daughter of a deceased Zionist leader, a beautiful woman in her forties, entrances young Shmuel even as she keeps him at a distance. Piece by piece, the old Jerusalem stone house, haunted by tragic history and now home to the three misfits and their intricate relationship, reveals its secrets. ~ Indiebound

I found this book to be very good for discussion but not as enjoyable to read as I had hoped. The romantic element between two of the characters seemed a tad forced and not terribly realistic. I liked parts of the story. A young student, listening to stories and learning from an elder was appealing to me but Atalia was cold as ice. I never warmed to her.

The political elements were not excessive but provided enough background to give me a feel for the conflict of that region. As a discussion book, it was excellent. We had plenty to talk about. The possibility of Judas being a hero was something we had to wrap our brains around. Throughout history he has been recognized as a traitor. That brought up the question, what is a traitor and is being one always bad?

Interesting, huh? Well, that’s all I have. I will say that reading other books while reading this one was not possible so I’m glad this one is behind me but if your club needs a good discussion book, give this one a try.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: There There

There There
By Tommy Orange
Knopf, 9780525520375, June 2018, 304pp.

The Short of It:

The writing in There There is so clear and authentic.

The Rest of It:

There There is one of those buzzy books that everyone is either reading or at least knows about. When it first came out, I immediately added it to my want list but didn’t actually read it until someone chose it for a discussion I was invited to.

The book begins with an essay on the portrayal of  Native Americans over time. Orange then introduces his characters through what appears to be separate stories, unrelated to one another. But as you read on, you slowly realize that all of these characters intersect and ultimately end up at a powwow where a robbery goes terribly wrong.

Each story is utterly compelling. A young woman loses one baby at birth and years later is forced to give up another. A young man, trying to make a future for himself applies for a grant so he can set-up a story booth at a local powwow, Another woman leaves the man who is beating her for a future elsewhere. An infant is born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is forced to grow up with the effects of the “Drome”, his nickname for it. What they have in common is their Native American heritage.

Powerful and engaging. It’s refreshing to read something that feels new and different. If you haven’t read There There yet, you may want to move it up on your list.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.