An intellectual and emotional jigsaw puzzle of a novel for readers of A. S. Byatt’s Possession and Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book
THE WEIGHT OF INK: A Novel
by Rachel Kadish
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, June 2017
Agent: The Gernert Co.
Set in London of the 1660s and of the early twenty-first century, The Weight of Ink is the interwoven tale of two women of remarkable intellect: Ester Velasquez, an emigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi, just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.
As the novel opens, Helen has been summoned by a former student to view a cache of seventeenth-century Jewish documents newly discovered in his home during a renovation. Enlisting the help of Aaron Levy, an American graduate student as impatient as he is charming, and in a race with another fast-moving team of historians, Helen embarks on one last project: to determine the identity of the documents’ scribe, the elusive “Aleph.”
Electrifying and ambitious, sweeping in scope and intimate in tone, The Weight of Ink is a sophisticated work of historical fiction about women separated by centuries, and the choices and sacrifices they must make in order reconcile the life of the heart and mind.
Rachel Kadish is the author, most recently, of the novel Tolstoy Lied: A Love Story. Among her many honors are a Koret Award, a Pushcart Prize, and citations in the 1997 and 2003 editions of The Best American Short Stories. Her work has been published in Zoetrope: All-Story, Tin House, Story, Bomb, Moment, Sh’ma, Congress Monthly, and Lilith. Kadish, a graduate of Princeton University, earned her MA in fiction writing at New York University.