Here I Am
How do we fulfill our conflicting duties as father, husband, and son; wife and mother; child and adult? Jew and American? How can we claim our own identities when our lives are linked so closely to others’? These are the questions at the heart of Jonathan Safran Foer’s first novel in eleven years-a work of extraordinary scope and heartbreaking intimacy.
Unfolding over four tumultuous weeks in present-day Washington, D.C., Here I Am is the story of a fracturing family in a moment of crisis. As Jacob and Julia Bloch and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living, a catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a quickly escalating conflict in the Middle East. At stake is the very meaning of home-and the fundamental question of how much aliveness one can bear.
Showcasing the same high-energy inventiveness, hilarious irreverence, and emotional urgency that readers loved in his earlier work, Here I Am is Foer’s most searching, hard-hitting, and grandly entertaining novel yet.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
The title Here I Am refers to passages in Genesis where Abraham is present for his God and his son. This novel unfolds over four weeks in the contemporary life of Jacob, a Jewish husband, dealing with his failing marriage, his son (eldest of three) whose conduct at Hebrew school jeopardizes his bar mitzvah, his Holocaust-survivor father moving to a Jewish Home, and his dying dog. These family crises are set against a catastrophic earthquake in Israel which sets the stage for a major Middle East conflict. This is a story about identity, about being the husband for your wife, the father for your son, the son for your father, and the citizen for your country while respecting your religious beliefs. Jacob is never searching for his identity in any of his roles, but ever present in all of them. I liked this novel for its feeling of ritual in the everyday, all the while Jacob’s life is tearing apart.