God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, and Abraham replied obediently, 'Here I am'.
Reviewed by Ben at Angus & Robertson Bookworld:
This work is purported to be ten years in the making and it’s clear from the outset that the author is not the same bright-eyed and bushy-tailed thing that conjured up Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The joys of parenthood are juxtaposed with nasty evil deeds in Here I Am forming a realist portrayal, rich with black comedy, of a family in slow-motion collapse. Children ask how to create good moral lives for themselves and parents and grandparents ask how much more life can they take.
This book is a slog so pack a toothbrush and get ready to hunker down with this family and love them as you would your own. About halfway in, an international cataclysm will raise the stakes something fierce and drive you on towards the finish. It becomes an imperfect but engaging marriage between the personal and the political in which we are confronted head-on by all of the baggage that accompanies contemporary Zionism. Ultimately, little improves for the Bloch family, but the principal of the story, Jacob, takes a leaf from JM Coetzee’s Disgrace, finding respite in caring for an animal when caring for humans has completely backfired on him. Despite all the chaos of this book, it’s a very moving ending.
The head is still a little sore from digesting this novel but the heart is soaring, as ever, from the magic of the author’s imagination. His writing sparkles with it.