|Book Review: Family deals with loss and with each other|
|Written by Andrea Kempf, Contributing Reviewer|
|Wednesday, June 13 2012 09:47|
“The World Without You: A Novel” by Joshua Henkin (Pantheon, 2012)
During the course of the year, Marilyn has become unable to relate to David and plans to separate from him. This news, broadcast upon everyone’s arrival, throws all the family’s relationships into question. Old grudges are excavated; memories of Leo are burnished; negligible thoughtless acts and comments spark anger; small children hover on the outside of the simmering conflicts and are unable to figure out what is happening to their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. What the author has done is create a living family. All of these people are real, recognizable individuals, working through their anger and grief.
Joshua Henkin, who teaches creative writing at Brooklyn College, is the author of two highly-acclaimed previous novels: “Matrimony” and “Swimming Across the Hudson.” He has the knack of placing his characters into the contemporary political and social milieus of their time without allowing the politics to overwhelm the narrative, but to beautifully inform it. Readers will recognize the Frankel family as their neighbors and friends — non-practicing Jews with a strong sense of social justice, people who are continually re-examining their lives and relationships, their political commitments, and in the final analysis realizing that their relationships are strong and worth maintaining. Saying Kaddish for Leo at the unveiling is not the end of the Frankel family but the beginning of a new way of relating to each other. This beautifully-written novel will provoke discussion and self-examination among its readers.