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Forest Dark

3.08  ·  Rating details ·  5,918 ratings  ·  976 reviews
Jules Epstein, a man whose drive, avidity, and outsized personality have, for sixty-eight years, been a force to be reckoned with, is undergoing a metamorphosis. In the wake of his parents’ deaths, his divorce from his wife of more than thirty years, and his retirement from the New York legal firm where he was a partner, he’s felt an irresistible need to give away his poss ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Harper (first published August 2017)
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Ann Massaro I agree with Zwieback. Not as good or well developed as either of her previous books. Too self-indulgent, and, frankly, boring for me. Israel was the …moreI agree with Zwieback. Not as good or well developed as either of her previous books. Too self-indulgent, and, frankly, boring for me. Israel was the best "character" in the book.(less)
Kathleen Flynn
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Average rating 3.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,918 ratings  ·  976 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
"But at a certain point the helplessness of our shared love for the children had reached a kind of apex, and then began to decline until it was no longer helpful to our relationship at all, because it only shone a light on how alone each of us was, and, compared to our children, how unloved".

"In our own ways, we had each come to understand that we had lost faith in our marriage. And yet we didn't know how to act on this understanding, as one does not know how to act on the understanding, for exa
Violet wells
Sep 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 21st-century
I’ve read all three of Nicole Krauss’ previous novels and one thing they all have in common is the writer is well concealed behind all the formal artistry. In this new novel of hers there’s a character called Nicole speaking in the first person with an intelligence at the height of its powers. So the first exciting thing about this was the feeling of intimacy with which Krauss seems to speak her mind.

There are two narratives here. The writer Nicole is struggling to write a new novel and is abou
Angela M
Aug 03, 2017 marked it as abandoned-not-for-me  ·  review of another edition
Giving up after 100+ pages . I have definitely enjoyed Krauss's other novels but I just did not connect with either of the two characters in the dual story lines. Just too much of an effort to wade through .

If I were a professional book reviewer—which I’m not—I might well have given Forest Dark five stars. After all, it’s cerebral, intelligently written, thought provoking, and brilliantly complex.

But I am simply a reader who likes to capture my reading experience and share my thoughts with others. And for me, this book was a thing to be admired rather than loved.

There are two parallel stories. One is the story of Jules Epstein, who goes missing in Israel after going through a sort of metamorphosis
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, israel
Last month I was finally introduced to the writing of Nicole Krauss. Craving Jewish themed books to read over the holidays, I had selected her National Book Award finalist Great House and neither the subject matter nor the writing disappointed. Shortly after completing this work starring a desk, I starting seeing reviews for Krauss' new book Forest Dark. Seeing that it is similar in format and that it takes place in Israel, I decided to make reading Krauss' latest work before the end of the year ...more
No young child naturally believes that reality is firm”.
Experiencing “a small tear in the fabric of reality” can keep the door of doubt ajar.

From my late teens to early twenties, I earnestly sought a mystical, personal relationship with God. I cast my net narrowly (the Anglican church) but deeply, devoting hours to bible study, prayer, services, singing, and so on. Sometimes I felt a ripple in the waters around me, but whatever caused it always slipped through the net, leaving me wondering if I
Roger Brunyate
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing

The Empty Space

I read this book eagerly and with absorption; my reactions ranged from admiration to love. All the same, I could easily describe it in such a way that no one would buy it: a first-person narrative by an author unable to overcome her writer's block, interleaved with the story of a wealthy lawyer who gradually withdraws from normal life. The two stories are not even connected, for heaven's sake! In the hands of a lesser writer, this could spell disaster. But Krauss is not a lesser w
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes when writing a review I'm torn between expressing my personal opinion of the book I've read and trying to imagine how others will feel about the book. In other words I don't want to recommend a book others won't like! This is a book I loved reading but suspect others will struggle with. Because the narrative threads are at times obscure and difficult to reconcile.

Forest Dark is a very Jewish novel. Krauss has already shown she's a writer one of whose strengths and weaknesses is a desi
Impressive in scope and structure, yet rather frustrating. If you’re hoping for another History of Love, you’re likely to come away disappointed: while that book touched the heart; this one is mostly cerebral. Metafiction, the Kabbalah, and some alternative history featuring Kafka are a few of the major elements, so think about whether those topics attract or repel you. Looking deeper, this is a book about Jewish self-invention and reinvention, and in that respect is a bit more successful than K ...more
Sid Nuncius
Aug 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
I thought Nicole Krauss's Great House was excellent and I was looking forward to this very much. Sadly, I thought Forest Dark was self-regardingly flashy and ultimately empty.

The book centres around two Jewish characters who are, in their different ways, having crises of identity and reassessing both their lives and their relationships with Israel and Judaism. Jules Epstein is a hugely successful businessman who begins to give away his possessions and have a sort of holiday from being himself, w
Lucy Banks
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Beautiful prose and a fascinating subject matter - but I was left wondering what the central point was...

Right from the start, I was wowed by the author's stunningly elegant writing; such thought-provoking language, laid out beautifully in this novel which is half about people, half about the nature of Judaism (and indeed, theology in general).

It's a story about Epstein - a man who has it all, then literally gives i
Ron Charles
Some readers may wonder if there’s a connection between the narrator of "Forest Dark" and the critically acclaimed novelist Nicole Krauss, who also has two sons and is separated from her husband, Jonathan Safran Foer. Nothing in these pages discourages the assumption that Krauss is revealing her own laments about the failure of their marriage, which makes “Forest Dark” feel uncomfortably passive aggressive: an act of relationship revenge with deniability built into its fictive frame.

“In the year
Rachel León
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Nicole Krauss is hands down one of my favorite novelists. I'm in awe of her brilliance. Yes, she is a poetic writer who can writes well-crafted beautiful sentences, but her intelligence seems other worldly. She can craft such a rich story that appears simple on the surface, but is deceptively layered with meaning--such is the case with FOREST DARK.

The story juxtaposes the lives of Epstein, a retired attorney, and Nicole, a novelist. The presence of the character of Nicole and the parallels she
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
My review for the Chicago Tribune:

Nicole Krauss' highly anticipated fourth novel, "Forest Dark," is preceded with a variation on the standard this-is-a-work-of-fiction disclaimer: "References to real people, events, establishments and organizations or locales are intended only to provide a sense of authenticity and are used fictitiously. All other characters, and all incidents and dialogue, are drawn from the author's imagination and are not to be constru
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
To be honest: I don't know whate the heck Krauss aimed at with this novel. It’s a double story she presents us: that of the 68-year-old Jewish American Jules Epstein and that of the 39-year-old writer Nicole, also of Jewish descent, who looks remarkably hard like Krauss herself. Epstein has had a sparkling career as a top-lawyer in which he amassed a fortune but also dealt with people very manipulatively. But after the death of both his parents, he seems lost: he hands out his fortune, divorces ...more
Sep 17, 2017 marked it as to-read
Just got this one in house.
Here's a review from the NYT:
switterbug (Betsey)
Nicole Krauss has always delivered 5 star books, but FOREST DARK is easily her best and most mesmerizing one to date. Poised, elegant, and numinous, it also moved me close to tears and left me exhilarated. She explores that liminal space between darkness and light, the internal and external, emptiness and fullness, and between life and death.

Two unrelated but connected characters and their stories are linked thematically in their quests for spiritual, immaterial completion. Jules Epstein, a wea
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost" (Dante)

Nicole Krauss has written a book of discovery, one that questions what life is and what one needs or doesn't need to lead a life well lived or possibly just plain lived. She has created two characters both of them searching for themselves in the land of Israel. She makes these characters go through an internal metamorphosis as the land of Israel has done growing into a v
I've given up 30% through this book. It's not that I didn't find some enjoyment in reading it, it's that it became harder and harder to pick it up. I'm not a fan of the two thread novel format generally and, for me, this is a clear example of why.

Essentially we have two unrelated people, a female author who feels trapped in both her domestic and professional lives - she's held as an icon by the Jewish people who feel she champions them in her writing and resents the role - and Epstein, a success
Apr 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2019-reads
And yet isn't this true of all of us? That there are things we feel to be at the heart of our nature that are not borne out by the evidence around us, and so, to protect our delicate sense of integrity, we elect, however unconsciously, to see the world other than the way it really is? And sometimes it leads to transcendence, and sometimes it leads to the unconscionable.

Imagine the idea of being both here and there, of seeing the world in a modified way. Or living in a reality that is different
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2018indch
The story of a young writer paralyzed by writer's block (a writer named Nicole, instantly evoking questions about Krauss' own life) and a parallel story to hers of a 68 year old lawyer who has forced his way to success throughout his life. Both crave a different kind of experience, one of openness, emptiness, an acceptance of the here and now. But not in their homes in New York City but in Israel, a country to which both have strong ties.

One step leads to another until both find themselves in a
lark benobi
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: harper, 2018
It feels likely that if this novel were sent over the transom from a previously unpublished writer it would never have found an agent much less a publisher. The adjectives that came to mind as I read included "turgid," "boring," "overwrought," "portentous," "pointless," and "self-absorbed." Even so I was determined to set all these judgments aside. I tried instead to think of this novel as a kind of found art. What if I had found this manuscript in a trash receptacle in a Greyhound bus station i ...more
Joachim Stoop
Dec 13, 2017 rated it liked it

I liked Man walks into a room, loved The history of love and even adored Great house, but this last one was more a drag than a pleasure to read.

I don't mind diving into Jewish culture, identity and historical inner struggles, but it felt as distant to me and yet claustrophobic as Howard Jacobson's The Finkler question.

I felt that parts of the story just didn't concern me so I wasn't engaged. Other parts were long inner monologues and analysis about parenthood, marriage, jews and writing. T
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I 95% chalk this rating to user error, but I honestly have no idea what was going on in Forest Dark. That's not to say that I couldn't follow the plot. I could. Mostly.

The story, though? I am at a complete loss on the significance--the meaning--of the whole thing. I have a strong sense that someone more versed in/familiar with Israel and Judaism's scripture/stories would be able to decode what Nicole Krauss is going for. To me, however, the plot (plots) never accreted into a recognizable story.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: june-2017, kindle
Krauss is one of my favourite authors, and her newest novel, Forest Dark, was one of my most highly anticipated reads of the year. Her prose is wonderful, and the entire book has been beautifully, richly, and sensuously written. The characters are all multi-layered, and teem with complexities. Krauss' newest work is filled with a plethora of philosophical and scientific ideas, of psychology and the practices and processes of weiring. The use of two differing narrative perspectives was effective, ...more
Leah Rachel von Essen
I adored The History of Love when I read it in 2010, its poetic language and twisting tale washing over me like ocean waves. So I was thrilled when I heard that Nicole Krauss was releasing a new novel this September called Forest Dark, and even more thrilled when it arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago in exchange for an honest review. Forest Dark is an incredible piece of artwork that tells two tales of personal transformation. A lawyer, Jules Epstein, has begun to give things away at an alarm ...more
Aug 21, 2017 marked it as maybe
Nicole Krauss: ‘The self is more or less an invention from beginning to end’. The American author talks about setting her new novel in Tel Aviv – and why she brought Kafka into it. ...more
Daniel Chaikin
52. Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss
reader: Gabra Zackman
published: 2017
format: 8:19 Overdrive audiobook (~231p, 304 pages in hardcover)
acquired: Library
listened: Nov 29 - Dec 8
rating: 3½

Very much a writers book, with a lot of exploration of the imagination (sometimes through Jewish mysticism). This was tough on me, partially because I am reading a book in the same writer-focused abstracted vein at the same time, the combination of the two giving me no respite.

Krauss follows two characters who nev
Jonathan Pool
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-lit
Forest Dark is not a light read. It’s a book whose examination of personal spirituality has as its unlikely focal point the Tel Aviv Hilton hotel.
Jules Epstein has given himself over to “radical charity”; an unnamed writer reflects on her failed marriage, in two separate stories.
The two parts didn’t really hang together for me, and the part I liked best concerned the recent, real life, history of Eva Hoffe, a descendant of Frank Kafka, and the Israeli government wrangle over Kafka’s legacy throu
Dec 02, 2017 rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book. I wanted to immerse myself into the story and really love all the characters. I wanted Nicole Krauss to take me away on an unforgettable journey, that is what I wanted but I did not get.

This is a novel that I would call, elegant, rich and deep. There are times the prose was so thick my head hurt. It felt really dense and I just could not get over how heavy every thing was. Its almost as if I was looking through a very thick mirror trying to get through and it just wa
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Monroe Public Lib...: Forest Dark 1 1 Nov 21, 2018 10:29AM  
Monroe Public Lib...: BOOK CHANGE for November 1 2 Jul 28, 2018 11:13AM  
Play Book Tag: Forest Dark - Nicole Krauss lets go with 3 stars? 18 29 Jun 03, 2018 09:05PM  

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Nicole Krauss is the author of the international bestseller The History of Love, which was published by W.W. Norton in 2005. It won the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, France’s Prix du Meilleur Livre Ėtranger, was named #1 book of the year by, and was short-listed for the Orange, Médicis, and Femina prizes. Her first novel, Man Walks Into a Room, was a finalist for the ...more

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“This is why the rabbis tell us that a broken heart is more full than one that is content: because a broken heart has a vacancy, and the vacancy has the potential to be filled with the infinite.” 6 likes
“In the months after the relationship ends, a person can seem to grow at a lightning rate, like in a nature documentary where weeks of footage is run at high speed to show a plant unfurling in seconds, but in reality the person has been growing all along, under the surface, and it is only in their new freedom, in their hair-raising aloneness, that the person can allow for these underground things to break through and unfurl themselves in the light.” 6 likes
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