kaddish.com: A novel

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When his father dies, 30-year-old Larry is forced to spend time with his devout family in Memphis. It has been years since Larry practiced his Jewish faith, and the process of mourning his father in the traditional way is not one he wants to undertake. Thus, Larry finds a proxy for his mourning on kaddish.com, the website that give Nathan Englander’s latest novel its name.

For a price, a student will take on the practice of saying Kaddish for the lost family member; this arrangement seems to answer Larry’s non-existent prayers until, years later when he has returned to his faith, he must grapple with this decades old decision.

The novel kaddish.com has moments of deep beauty, largely drawn from the revelations Larry (later called Shuli) makes about his own choices when he had strayed from his faith as a younger man. In those revelations, we see Englander at his best: contemplative, mystical, honest. However, the rapid jump from Larry at 30 to Shuli at 50 is so quick; it is hard to digest the passage of time and the events that bred the transformation of the protagonist.

Overall, the novel is a meditation of faith, grief, and the shame we carry for decisions made earlier in life. This book is a great fit for fans of Englander, Michael Chabon, and Jonathan Franzen.


Reviewed By:

Author Nathan Englander
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 224 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2019-03-26
ISBN 9781524732752
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue June 2019
Category Modern Literature
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