Naamah

Review: Naamah by Sarah Blake

With the coming of the Great Flood — the mother of all disasters — only one family was spared, drifting on an endless sea, waiting for the waters to subside. We know the story of Noah, moved by divine vision to launch their escape. Now, in a work of astounding invention, acclaimed writer Sarah Blake reclaims the story of his wife, Naamah, the matriarch who kept them alive. Here is the woman torn between faith and fury, lending her strength to her sons and their wives, caring for an unruly menagerie of restless creatures, silently mourning the lover she left behind. Here is the woman escaping into the unreceded waters, where a seductive angel tempts her to join a strange and haunted world. Here is the woman tormented by dreams and questions of her own — questions of service and self-determination, of history and memory, of the kindness or cruelty of fate.

In fresh and modern language, Blake revisits the story of the Ark that rescued life on earth, and rediscovers the agonizing burdens endured by the woman at the heart of the story. Naamah is a parable for our time: a provocative fable of body, spirit, and resilience.

Author: Sarah Blake | Publisher: Riverhead

Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5/5

“Are you here to judge me?” Naamah asks [the angel].
“No.”
“Do you regret me as He does?”
“He does not regret you.”
“He does not regret Noah. I am just loved by the man He does not regret.”
“Is that not enough?”
“No,” Naamah says, “that is not enough.”

It’s common for me to hear about books I want to read. I add them to my list. I see if the library has them. If not, maybe I’ll pick them up in a bookstore next time I’m there. But very rarely do I hear about a book and then immediately open Amazon and order that book. Very rarely to I set aside the shortlist of books I’d planned to read next so that I can read that one right away. I did those things for Naamah … and I was not disappointed.

This book is glorious. It’s absolutely unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Holy words walloping me in the stomach, Batman. Did the universe need a book about the matriarch of humanity walking around, thinking radical thoughts, knowing exactly who the hell she is, resenting God’s intrusion in her life, and having sex with women, and herself, and her husband? Hell yes, it did. Hell. Yes. It. Did.

(Also: If those things happening within a story from the bible are not for you, then this book is not for you. Which is totally okay! But you’ve been warned.)

The book is also pretty abstract at certain moments. Sometimes I felt kind of like I did the first time I read Waiting for Godot (“wait — what the heck did I just read? that means something, right? I know it does, but … what does it mean?”). But it’s so worth the squinty eyes deep in thought.

Do as I did — stop what you’re doing and read this right now.

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