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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probing, restless re-working of the biblical story, 15 Jun 2014
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Jeremy Bevan (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a sharply-observed re-telling of the biblical story of Abraham and Sarah, vividly re-imagined as an ‘eternal triangle’ in which God is Sarah’s jealous rival for Abraham’s devotion. Diski’s close reading of the biblical creates a wonderfully imagined hinterland to the couple’s early life. But before long, it’s apparent Sarah’s reliance on the ‘way of the world’ gives her a very different outlook on life from that of the troubled, introspective Abraham. God interjects frequently, and (omniscient, of course) comments tartly on the often rather meandering progress of Abraham’s faith, as well as on Sarah’s ‘acid disbelief’ (140).
God’s frequent lengthy silences (a feature of the biblical text, too) lead Abraham and Sarah to create for themselves meaning from the ‘blankness, the void over which they walked with every step of their lives’ (185). As this very human drama unfolds, God learns the full extent of what humanity is capable of – love, longing, pity, hate, cruelty. The effects are not pretty, and – again, as suggested by the biblical text – the near-sacrifice of Isaac is a point of final rupture between Sarah and her husband (as well as seemingly between Abraham and God, much to the latter’s surprise).

Jenny Diski’s particular gift, it seems to me, is an almost rabbinic talent for interrogating the biblical text’s silences and ambiguities, and producing from them a probing, restless fictional re-working that poses weighty questions. How far is God ‘in control’ when humans are created free ? Is what happens to those who are not God’s ‘object of affection’ merely unfortunate ‘collateral damage’ ? Not only is this serious, thoughtful fiction, it’s wonderfully written, with a superb ear for the ironic. I loved, for example, the way God’s thoughts would pick up themes pondered immediately beforehand by Sarah, who remains oblivious to the divine throughout. A delight.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever and original!, 30 Oct 2011
This review is from: Only Human: A Divine Comedy: A Comedy (Paperback)
I have enjoyed all of Jenny Diski's novels and this was no exception. I found her interpretation of this age old story so original and clever.....and so human.
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Only Human: A Divine Comedy: A Comedy
Only Human: A Divine Comedy: A Comedy by Jenny Diski (Paperback - 4 Oct 2001)
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