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Forest Dark
Cover of Forest Dark
Forest Dark
A Novel
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**A New York Times Notable Book of the Year; A Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year**

"A brilliant novel. I am full of admiration." —Philip Roth

"One of America's most important novelists" (New York Times), the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The History of Love, conjures an achingly beautiful and breathtakingly original novel about personal transformation that interweaves the stories of two disparate individuals—an older lawyer and a young novelist—whose transcendental search leads them to the same Israeli desert.

Jules Epstein, a man whose drive, avidity, and outsized personality have, for sixty-eight years, been a force to be reckoned with, is undergoing a metamorphosis. In the wake of his parents' deaths, his divorce from his wife of more than thirty years, and his retirement from the New York legal firm where he was a partner, he's felt an irresistible need to give away his possessions, alarming his children and perplexing the executor of his estate. With the last of his wealth, he travels to Israel, with a nebulous plan to do something to honor his parents. In Tel Aviv, he is sidetracked by a charismatic American rabbi planning a reunion for the descendants of King David who insists that Epstein is part of that storied dynastic line. He also meets the rabbi's beautiful daughter who convinces Epstein to become involved in her own project—a film about the life of David being shot in the desert—with life-changing consequences.

But Epstein isn't the only seeker embarking on a metaphysical journey that dissolves his sense of self, place, and history. Leaving her family in Brooklyn, a young, well-known novelist arrives at the Tel Aviv Hilton where she has stayed every year since birth. Troubled by writer's block and a failing marriage, she hopes that the hotel can unlock a dimension of reality—and her own perception of life—that has been closed off to her. But when she meets a retired literature professor who proposes a project she can't turn down, she's drawn into a mystery that alters her life in ways she could never have imagined.

Bursting with life and humor, Forest Dark is a profound, mesmerizing novel of metamorphosis and self-realization—of looking beyond all that is visible towards the infinite.

**A New York Times Notable Book of the Year; A Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year**

"A brilliant novel. I am full of admiration." —Philip Roth

"One of America's most important novelists" (New York Times), the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The History of Love, conjures an achingly beautiful and breathtakingly original novel about personal transformation that interweaves the stories of two disparate individuals—an older lawyer and a young novelist—whose transcendental search leads them to the same Israeli desert.

Jules Epstein, a man whose drive, avidity, and outsized personality have, for sixty-eight years, been a force to be reckoned with, is undergoing a metamorphosis. In the wake of his parents' deaths, his divorce from his wife of more than thirty years, and his retirement from the New York legal firm where he was a partner, he's felt an irresistible need to give away his possessions, alarming his children and perplexing the executor of his estate. With the last of his wealth, he travels to Israel, with a nebulous plan to do something to honor his parents. In Tel Aviv, he is sidetracked by a charismatic American rabbi planning a reunion for the descendants of King David who insists that Epstein is part of that storied dynastic line. He also meets the rabbi's beautiful daughter who convinces Epstein to become involved in her own project—a film about the life of David being shot in the desert—with life-changing consequences.

But Epstein isn't the only seeker embarking on a metaphysical journey that dissolves his sense of self, place, and history. Leaving her family in Brooklyn, a young, well-known novelist arrives at the Tel Aviv Hilton where she has stayed every year since birth. Troubled by writer's block and a failing marriage, she hopes that the hotel can unlock a dimension of reality—and her own perception of life—that has been closed off to her. But when she meets a retired literature professor who proposes a project she can't turn down, she's drawn into a mystery that alters her life in ways she could never have imagined.

Bursting with life and humor, Forest Dark is a profound, mesmerizing novel of metamorphosis and self-realization—of looking beyond all that is visible towards the infinite.

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About the Author-
  • Nicole Krauss is the author of the novels Forest Dark, Great House, The History of Love, and Man Walks Into a Room. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, Esquire, and The Best American Short Stories, and her books have been translated into more than thirty-five languages. She is currently the inaugural writer-in-residence at Columbia University's Mind, Brain, and Behavior Institute. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 1, 2017
    Krauss’s elegant, provocative, and mesmerizing novel is her best yet. Rich in profound insights and emotional resonance, it follows two characters on their paths to self-realization. In present-day Israel, two visiting Americans—one a young wife, mother, and novelist, the other an elderly philanthropist—experience transcendence. In alternating chapters, Krauss (The History of Love) first presents Jules Epstein, a high-powered retired Manhattan lawyer whose relentless energy has dimmed with his recent divorce, the death of his parents, and an inchoate desire to divest himself of the chattels of his existence. A change of POV introduces a narrator—a Brooklyn resident named Nicole who has a failing marriage, two young children, and writer’s block. Both Jules and Nicole are vulnerable to despair and loss of faith, and trust in conventional beliefs. Although they never meet, similar existential crises bring them to Tel Aviv, where each is guided by a mysterious Israeli and experiences glimpses of a surreal world where they feel their true identities lie. A charismatic rabbi, Menachem Klausner, claims that Jules is a descendant of King David. Meanwhile, Nicole is lured into meeting Eliezer Friedman, a retired literature professor and perhaps an ex-Mossad agent who attempts to convince Nicole of a preposterous but increasingly alluring idea: that Franz Kafka didn’t die in Prague but secretly was smuggled into Israel. He wants Nicole to write about the hidden life of this famous literary figure. Nicole’s conversations with Friedman and Epstein’s with Klausner about God and the creation of the world are bracingly intellectual and metaphysical. Vivid, intelligent, and often humorous, this novel is a fascinating tour de force.

  • Stephen Finucan, Toronto Star "Masterful . . . Beguiling, brilliant."
  • José Teodoro, The Globe and Mail "Forest Dark had me from the start . . . . The writing Krauss engages in deliberately straddles the frontiers of resonant fiction and recognizable self. It offers a vast space in which one can lose oneself, but it also supplies some level of closure to bring us back."
  • Philip Roth "A brilliant novel. I am full of admiration."
  • Booklist (starred review) "Entrancing and mysterious . . . Krauss reflects with singing emotion and sagacity on Jewish history; war; the ancient, plundered forests of the Middle East; and the paradoxes of being. A resounding look at the enigmas of the self and the persistence of the past."
  • Library Journal (starred review) "Wildly imaginative, darkly humorous and deeply personal, this novel seems to question the very nature of time and space. Krauss commands our attention, and serious readers will applaud."
  • Emily St. John Mandel, The Guardian "Forest Dark finds Krauss at the top of her game. It is blazingly intelligent, elegantly written and a remarkable achievement."
  • The Spectator (UK) "For all the ambitious scope of spiritual adventure and intellectual rumination, Forest Dark is most affecting in its quiet moments of domestic reflection."
  • The Economist "The feelings Epstein and Nicole have about their lives and loves feel hard-earned and true...The resonances between these characters are often profound. Both are searching for their true selves, an ocean away from the old lives that have tested their faith."
  • Francesca Segal, Financial Times "Magnificent. . . . A richly layered masterpiece; creative, profound, insightful, deeply serious, effortlessly elegant, both human and humane. Krauss is a poet and a philosopher, and this latest work does what only the very best fiction can do—startles, challenges and enlightens the reader, while showing the familiar world anew."
  • Sunday Express (London) "Forest Dark shares much in common with Philip Roth's writing. Philosophical and intellectual, it explores identity, culture and the connections between the individual and history."
  • Ruth Franklin, Harper’s Magazine "Strange and beguiling . . . a mystery that operates on grounds simultaneously literary and existential . . . metaphysical and emphatically realistic. . . . It's a perfectly Kafkaesque vision, almost uncanny enough to be sublime."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Krauss, as ever, writes beautifully about complex themes, and she has a keen eye for the way Israel's culture, slower but more alert to violence, requires its American characters to reboot their perceptions."
  • Rebecca Makkai, O Magazine "She writes insight and revelation better than just about anyone working today...While Krauss' genius has long been evident, of her four books this one cuts closest to the bone. The woods may be dark but Krauss' gorgeous sentences light our way through."
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Forest Dark
A Novel
Nicole Krauss
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