Bedtime Stories: November 2022

  • November 22, 2022

What are book lovers reading before lights-out? We asked one of them, and here’s what she said.

Bedtime Stories: November 2022

Suzanne Feldman:

For me, writing a novel has to be a pretty immersive experience without too many distractions, and so I tend not to read fiction while I’m writing. When I finish writing, though, and come up for air, I try to find a novel that’s both challenging and hopefully mind-blowing. Such is the stuff of Sarah Blake’s Naamah, which I read over the summer.

Naamah is the name of Noah’s wife. The book takes place during the Flood and relates incidents that happen on the Ark while it’s floating aimlessly in the new sea. Blake is a master: The scenes that take place on deck are written almost like a stage play, and everything is fairly normal. Belowdecks, though, where the animals are, there’s nothing but danger. Tigers escape, creatures must be culled, and humans are completely out of their element.

That’s on the ship. Around it, there’s nothing but water. But when Naamah goes for a swim, she discovers an underwater city where the children who drowned in the Flood live out their afterlives. There’s also an angel. God makes an appearance (possibly) and is confronted with this deed — wiping out His creations to start over, with Naamah and her family as the new Adams and Eves.

Sarah Blake asks hard questions in Naamah and evokes new ones. It’s a powerful, feminist work, and I’ve been recommending it to everyone!

Suzanne Feldman received her Master’s in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University. She is the author of five novels, including Absalom’s Daughters. She was a Walter Dakin Fellow at the Sewanee Writers Conference in 2019. Her latest novel, Sisters of the Great War, has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. In 2022, she was awarded a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council and won the Washington Writers’ Publishing House Fiction Prize for her story collection, The Witch Bottle & Other Stories.

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