Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mara: A Novel by Tova Reich

I am a big fan of Tova Reich's work.  This is a review I wrote in 2008 for her superb novel Mara.  My only problem with Reich is that she simply does not have enough published work out there to lay my paws on...

Reich walks a fine line in Mara between satire and burlesque and the display of real, shaded, faceted human life. The first half of the novel is almost completely taken over by satire, as Mara and her husband Sudah are portrayed as hapless, comic lovers; Mara is the innocent quickly shedding her innocence under the paws of Sudah, the wily Mizrahi lover who initiates her into the ways of Eros. By the end of this stunning little novel, Mara and Sudah are transformed from bumbling hedonists to genuine seekers of religious truth: Sudah in India and Mara in a cave in Formentera, living off berries and water. Reich is particularly adept at this type of slight of hand. She is fiendishly funny, poking fun at nearly every human foible, but she knows the seriousness of this venture of human seeking, and can put the gags aside for weighty matters like meaning and truth and love.

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