Book Review – Forest Dark

Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss (Bloomsbury) ISBN: 9781408871799

Seven years after her last novel, Great House, Krauss has written a complex and intellectual new book.

Nicole Krauss is an admirer of Kafka and uses the same themes of metamorphosis and alienation. The title refers to Dante’s opening lines in the Divine Comedy. Just like Dante, the two main characters leave the established path of their lives to enter the possibility of change.

There are two story lines. One is in the third person about the missing lawyer Epstein. He is retired, divorced and has sold everything that was left of his wealth to travel to the Tel Aviv Hilton to raise a monument for his diseased parents.

The other line is in the first person about novelist Nicole (auto fiction) who leaves her husband and children and flies from Brooklyn to the same hotel hoping to unlock her writer’s block.

Both experience some kind of transformation and personal development after a journey of self-reflection in search of their identity. The storylines mirror, but don’t cross. Especially Nicole’s introspection stirs philosophical and psychological questions. Maybe because it’s told in the first person it is closer to my heart?

Forest Dark is not an easy read. It asks for the reader to engage seriously. If you have time to invest, I can recommend it.

Pauline Vijverberg