Here I Am
Jonathan Safran Foer, Here I am: A NNovel (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux), 2016.
I ended up writing an extensive review of this book for my colleagues, but here is no need for an extended essay here. The book is a bit uncomfortable to read if only for the language and depth of description of sexual fantasies. Mind you these are only fantasies, there is no actual sexual activity in the story other than a bit of description of adolescent masturbation. That aside, the book gains its impact, I think because it represents third or fourth generation post Holocaust Jewish fiction. Issues of what it means to be a survivor, guilt over Israel from both those who live in Israel and those who do not, and a struggle to maintain Jewish identity in a rapidly changing world, all parallel first generation post Holocaust fiction.
The characters aren't completely likable, but they do represent important parts of the story of contemporary Judaism and the connections that run deep in family. I think that the book is best appreciated when it is seen in context with other Jewish fiction of the 20th and 21st centuries. I'm not sure I can say I enjoyed the book, but I think it is an important book and represents the passing of the torch, in a sense, to a new generation of Jewish fiction writers.