Fic­tion

Naamah

Sarah Blake

  • Review
By – February 25, 2019

In her debut nov­el, Sarah Blake vivid­ly con­veys the sto­ry of Noah and the Ark from an unusu­al per­spec­tive — that of Noah’s wife, Naamah. Blake writes with strong, sen­su­al, mod­ern lan­guage, and uti­lizes time trav­el and dream sequences to cre­ate a mul­ti­lay­ered sto­ry. With this book, Blake has tak­en one of the best-known bib­li­cal tales and opened it up in ways both inven­tive and provocative.

Naamah is filled with the sights, scents, and sounds of Naamah, Noah, and their family’s try­ing exis­tence on the Ark. Blake brings this world alive in many ways, from detailed descrip­tions of the con­struc­tion of the Ark and prepa­ra­tions for the jour­ney, to the day-to-day prac­ti­cal­i­ties of liv­ing with a lit­er­al boat­load of crea­tures who need to be fed, cleaned up after, cared for, and con­trolled. This is not to men­tion the inter­ac­tions among the eight peo­ple liv­ing on the Ark: Naamah, Noah, their three sons, and three daughters-in-law.

Blake exam­ines Naamah’s com­plex inner life: the pain of leav­ing behind a lover, her rela­tion­ship with an angel, her rela­tion­ship with God. She also explores the psy­cho­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions Naamah, Noah, and their chil­dren face as the last eight peo­ple left on Earth — their guilt, con­fu­sion, and anx­i­ety, and the weight of the respon­si­bil­i­ties that lie ahead of them. Here is Naamah speak­ing to her fam­i­ly before they enter the Ark: This is the last time you will see a crowd of peo­ple. Enjoy them. Observe them. Remem­ber what you can. And don’t try to stick togeth­er. Soon we’ll all be togeth­er more than we can stand.”

With Naamah, Blake pro­vides insights both unique and mov­ing, and makes an ancient tale feel vibrant and rel­e­vant to today.

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