Houman Barekat

Other Life

Here I Am

By Jonathan Safran Foer

Hamish Hamilton 571pp £20 order from our bookshop

From Michel Houellebecq’s Islamicised France in Submission to Lionel Shriver’s vision of an autarkic United States in The Mandibles, the political disaster novel is in vogue and one only has to pick up a newspaper to see why. By confronting us with our worst nightmares, such fictions offer a space to explore and interrogate our anxieties – and in these uncertain times, we could all use a little therapy. Jonathan Safran Foer’s fourth novel, Here I Am, adds to the ranks of these dystopias of the present, in intent if not quite in execution. A massive earthquake knocks out Israel’s infrastructure and all but negates its military capability, rendering it exceptionally vulnerable to attack. A coalition of Arab and Middle Eastern nations duly launches an assault. The premise is dubious, but that is beside the point: the catastrophe forms the backdrop to the real action, which is the breakdown of the protagonist’s marriage. Jacob and Julia, an affluent Jewish American couple in their early forties, have been together a long time and have three children. Jacob is rumbled sexting another woman and everything unravels – at excruciating length – from there.

Subscribe to read the full article

KentState_Sept2016_online

hamilton_sept2016_online

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Costume of the life force? Words fail.' Germaine Greer on an ode to the condom ,
    • It's Write on Kew for the next four days. There are free copies of Literary Review about; why not dip your toe into the magazine?,
    • Which sci-fi author time-travelled to ancient Rome and lived a parallel life a persecuted Christian named Thomas? ,
    • You can pick up free copies of Literary Review at Write On Kew, which begins tomorrow. Fill your boots (with magazines).,
    • Michael Burleigh reads a survey of the rise of Asia ,
    • The Book of Kells, the Codex Amiatinus and the Carmina Burana: manuscript celebrities ,
    • 'Her bias is firmly towards all that is subterranean, hidden, buried, cavernous': Gillian Tindall explores Crossrail ,