Wednesday, October 15, 2008

zoe heller's novel 'the believers'

photo of Zoe Heller by Sigrid Estrada
One of the unexpected delights of this novel was encountering an endearing Egyptian character living in the US - a middle-aged newsagent working in a New York hospital, the unlikely love object of the overweight, less than happily married daughter of the acerbic central character Audrey. Khaled could almost have strolled into The Believers from the pages of Alaa al-Aswany's 'Chicago'.
I very much enjoyed The Believers, despite the endlessly repeated mantra of critics that her characters are so unsympathetic. Hard to see why it didn't even make the Man Booker longlist, or shortlist come to that. The portaits and interactions of the members of the dysfunctional Jewish family and their divergent beliefs are fascinating and funny; poignant and perceptive. Great to read such an intelligent work, and I look forward to going through it all over again.

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