Kafka's Son by Curt Leviant

detailsandtales's review

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I happened upon this book by accident at the library. I'd been looking at the shelves of new science fiction, and turned around to find this book one of the shelves of new fiction behind me. The author's name sounded vaguely familiar (and with good reason. Turns out he taught at my alma mater, though I never had him as a teacher), and the title and front cover flap caught my interest. I don't normally read magical realism, maybe because it often moves at a slower pace than the science fiction and fantasy I usually go for. So it may have been me and not the book that was at issue here. I did read to the end, and the ending of the main story managed to be both surprising and fitting, but I could easily have put it down and walked away. This book gets bonus points for having seven beginnings, and having a sense of magic while also being very Jewish. Synagogues and Judaism - and the idea of the golem, of course - played a central role in the story. The way the characters communicated with each other was also fascinating and often unique. The stuff that comes after the ending of the main story, and the occasional references to the author himself, I could have done without. Plus, as I already mentioned, the story felt slow to me, especially at the beginning. However, it also had a beauty to it, and a uniqueness that I appreciated. It didn't hurt that I visited Prague last summer, so I could see so many of the places mentioned in the book - Old Town Square, the Altneu Shul, etc. - extra clearly, and that the Jewish elements and the fantastical elements mixed in a way that worked so well.