The Millions

Closer to Truth: On Nicole Krauss’s ‘Forest Dark’

When, “midway upon the journey of our life/[He] found [himself] within a forest dark,” Dante Alighieri went epic, envisioning a descent into hell, a spiritual purgation and eventual transcendence. When the two central characters in Forest Dark, Nicole Krauss’s first novel in seven years suffer their own life crises, they head to Israel, search for meaning and for immanence, and wind up in the desert. Like the poem from which it borrows its title, Forest Dark is also epic, though in its own way: quiet, eerie, touchingly inchoate. It is an epic of loneliness, a testimony of and to longing that remains unfulfilled.

The novel, who published his post-divorce novel last year. It also seems important to note that, whereas Foer dealt with his hurt feelings by imagining the destruction of Israel in his book, Krauss deals in altogether more human and humane troubles.)

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