The Book of Jonah

The Book of Jonah

by Joshua Max Feldman

Overview: The modern-day Jonah at the center of Joshua Max Feldman’s brilliantly conceived retelling of the book of Jonah is a young Manhattan lawyer named Jonah Jacobstein. He’s a lucky man: healthy and handsome, with two beautiful women ready to spend the rest of their lives with him and an enormously successful career that gets more promising by the minute. He’s celebrating a deal that will surely make him partner when a bizarre, unexpected biblical vision at a party changes everything. Hard as he tries to forget what he saw, this disturbing sign is only the first of many Jonah will witness, and before long his life is unrecognizable. Though this perhaps divine intervention will be responsible for more than one irreversible loss in Jonah’s life, it will also cross his path with that of Judith Bulbrook, an intense, breathtakingly intelligent woman who’s no stranger to loss herself. As this funny and bold novel moves to Amsterdam and then Las Vegas, Feldman examines the way we live now while asking an age-old question: How do you know if you’re chosen?

Gail Reid (12/20/14): When I hear about a new book based on a biblical story, I generally shy away. "Been there -done that", I think, "so how original and how good could the novel be?" The Book of Jonah was a pleasant surprise; and even though my knowledge of the Old Testament Jonah is weak, the modern tale stands as a strong story on its own.

The main character Jonah is a 32-year-old, non-religious, corporate lawyer caught up in the driven, ambitious world of high rent NY when he crosses paths with a Hasidic rabbi in a subway. The rabbi compares him to the biblical Jonah; and shortly afterward, visions occur that totally change the modern Jonah's world and the people in it.

The other major character, Judith, grows up in a perfect world of loving family and academic achievement until tragedy changes everything. It is the inevitable intersection of these two characters and the messages that Jonah receives through visions that makes us think about destiny and fate.
Rating: ****

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