Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction and Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel and post Colonial Asian Fiction, Yiddish Literature, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality historical novels are some of my Literary Interests

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish (576 pages, 2017)

This post will be brief.  I am very worried over numerous u family members in the path of Irma.  I blog on because it is what I do.

As The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish opens an historian has been called, to a built in the 17th century house in London to inspect a collection of very old documents the house owners have discovered, with an eye to determining their origins and possible scholarly and historical value.  Helen Watts, nearing retirement age has been sent out by the history department of her university.  It turns out the documents are related to the household of a 17th London Rabbi, moved there from Amsterdam.  

Commonly compared now to Possession by A. S. Byatt 

there are two narrative threads, one focusing on a 17th century Jewish woman and one on the lives of Helen Watt and her doctoral student helper.  The treatment of the pettiness of academic infighting was just so spot on I loved it.  I was delighted to see Spinoza playing an important part in the story, and glad my reading him fifty years ago has now become a fashionable activity.  

The Weight of Ink is a delightful book. The characters are very well developed and I felt I knew them.  The descriptions of London during the plague were marvelous and I learned a good bit about Jewish life in the mid-1700s in this meticulously researched book.


Rachel Kadish is the award-winning author of the novels From a Sealed Room and Tolstoy Lied: a Love Story, as well as the novella I Was Here. Her work has appeared on NPR and in the New York Times, Ploughshares, and Tin House, and has been anthologized in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and elsewhere.

She has been a fiction fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, has received the John Gardner Fiction Award and the Koret Foundation's Young Writer on Jewish Themes Award, and was a writer-in-residence at Stanford University.

She lives outside Boston and teaches in Lesley University's MFA Program in Creative Writing.  - from

Mel u


Buried In Print said...

I do hope that your family members are safe, Mel. I understand your compulsion to write even in (especially in) the presence of grave concern.

Kadish's novel sounds interesting in its premise (I loved Possession - it might have been the book that got me serious about literary fiction) and the fact that you feel that she got the academic scene so right is intriguing. I've added it to my TBR!

Mel u said...

Buried in Print. I think it was Macbeth who spoke of family members as "fortune's hostages", thanks so much for your comment

Mudpuddle said...

this sounds like a delightful book; i liked "Possession" a lot and if this is like that i should read it... tx.... i hope you and yours weather the storms okay... it's tough knowing loved ones are in harm's way and not being able to do much about it... just cross our fingers and hope it works out...

Mel u said...

Mudpuddle, thanks so much for your thoughts and comments, they help keep me blogging on