First thing first, I have to mention that the cover for this short story collection is utterly mind-blowing with its detailed beauty. There’s just so much to let sink in and the color scheme only adds to it. I mean:This debut collection of stories takes readers from the United States to Israel—and back—to examine the mystifying reaches of our own minds and hearts.
The characters of The Worlds We Think We Know are swept up by forces beyond their control: war, adulthood, family—and their own emotions, as powerful as the sandstorm that gusts through these stories. In Ohio, a college student cruelly enlists the help of the boy who loves her to attract the attention of her own crush. In Israel, a young American woman visits an uncommunicative Holocaust survivor and falls in love with a soldier. And from an unnamed Eastern European country, a woman haunts the husband who left her behind for a new life in New York City.
It never fails to feel refreshing to read twenty short stories set around Jewish main characters living either in Israel or the United States. (Though, I personally found the Israeli chapters to be a bit more enjoyable because of the Hebrew references.) Plus, coming into this right after having finished Suddenly, a Knock on the Door by Etgar Keret put me in the perfect mindset. The quiet and subtle energy surrounding Dalia Rosenfeld’s tales pulled me into the collection a tenfold.
Though some tales were a bit confusing to wrap my head around, I still really enjoyed immersing myself in this exploration of immigrants, Holocaust survivors, Yiddish literature (Mendele Mocher Sforim, Shalom Aleichem, Isaac Bashevis Singer), and that feeling of getting caught up in your favorite book while ignoring your surroundings for days to come. Speaking of the latter, here’s a paragraph that gets me on a whole new level:
“Those seven days were like a shivah for me that I marked not by sitting on a low stool and covering the mirrors, but by ordering takeout and letting dust accumulate in every corner of the house. If the cast of characters had been able to stand up and take a bow at the end of the book, the week would have been much easier for all of us to get through—not just for me, but for everyone in my family, who knew to stay away from me whenever I had the book in my hand. It was the double dying that made it so hard, the fiction interchangeable with the fact.”
There is undeniably a quiet beauty to this book. Full of moving stories circling the ordinary and extraordinary, The Worlds We Think We Know is a keeper from the start.
Plus, I’m incredible thankful that this collection made me discover and add a ton of new authors to my to-read list, thanks to the many mentions of classic Yiddish literature.
ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Publication Date: May 16th, 2017