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This Is Why I Came: A Novel

179 pages2 hours


“Rakow’s latest novel brims with wildly imagined Bible stories, into which she infused new layers of mystery and mysticism, ambiguity and wonder.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
A woman sits in prayerful meditation, waiting to offer her first confession in more than thirty years. She holds a small book on her lap, one that she’s made, and tells herself again the Bible stories it contains, the ones she has written anew, for herself, each story told aslant, from Jonah to Jesus, Moses to Mary Magdalen. Woven together and stitched by hand, they provide a new version, virtually a new translation, of the heart of this ancient and sacred text. Rakow’s Bernadette traces, through each brief and familiar story, a line where belief and disbelief touch, the line that has been her home, ragged and neglected, that hidden seam.
“Rakow moves unpredictably from the simple, stark details of the Sunday School versions we know to her own striking emendations and elaborations . . . brief as these prose poems are, they’re still capable of arresting moments and startling insights . . . the novel is tremendously poignant as it follows the life of Joseph, who speaks no words in the Gospels but finds his voice here.” —The Washington Post
“Rakow’s feat in these fragments is to blend the gnomic and the prosaic, skepticism and wonder . . . Mere mortals can use imaginative jolts like the one she delivers.” —The Atlantic
“The outlines of the Bible stories are familiar, but their characters are more rounded, more poignant in Rakow’s spare but poetic telling.” —The Boston Globe

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