Interview and Review of The Haunting and Dream-Like Naamah by @blakesarah
Interview and Review of Naamah by Sarah Blake – Released April 2019 by Riverhead
Sarah Blake’s debut novel, Naamah, is the feminist re-telling of the Biblical story of Noah’s Ark. So I didn’t so much as read Sarah Blake’s debut novel, Naamah, as much as enter into it, one tentative step at a time.
It is a world unto itself and once inside I continued to be drawn deeper as if an incantation had been cast over me. This story is like none other. Told through the perspective of Noah’s wife, we are on the ark after the great flood, and experience the sense of loss and overwhelming responsibility experienced by Namaah as she wrestles with her new reality, which is, in effect, that she is the new Eve.
Haunting and dream-like, we dive into her subconscious and encounter divinity and humanity interwoven in a stew of contradictions. This book is well worth the journey. It will take you places you will contemplate for a long time.
Bravo, Sarah Blake!
Interview with Sarah Blake
Congratulations on the success of your debut novel, which is taking the world by storm! Thank you for agreeing to do this interview!
Thank you for having me!
1. I assume things have been a whirlwind since your book came out. Can you tell us a little about what it is like to live ‘across the pond’ while your book is exploding here?
It’s quiet, for which I’m grateful. But I think it would be quiet, too, if I were in the States. This part of the process, with reviews and such, is so removed from me, and I’m just keeping my head down and working away at my next book.
2. When at your event in Princeton, NJ, I mentioned very quickly a theme in Naamah that caught hold of me – that of betrayal. Can you expound a little more on this?
Betrayal is an interesting thing in this book. The woman in the cave feels betrayed. Sarai feels betrayed. Naamah doesn’t. But leaving Naamah in this position, that of survivor, and also the observer of the betrayal of everyone, leaves Naamah a complete mess.
3. Noah and Naamah have a strong relationship, yet Noah doesn’t appear much in the book. Other than the focus on Naamah, can you tell us why he isn’t more prominent?
I think you’ve said it right there. The book is consumed by Naamah—it’s with her through all her tasks throughout the day, it’s with her when she swims, eats, bathes, and it’s even with her in her dreams when she’s asleep. She’s with the other characters as her path crosses theirs, but I couldn’t predict when that would be or how often.
4. The theme of loss carries us forward as we read Naamah’s story. Where did you find the inspiration for this particular component of the book?
America, as a country, is in a perpetual state of loss right now with its shootings—that’s how it felt to me—the mass shootings, police shootings, school shootings, accidental shootings by young children. Tragedy upon tragedy. And I was writing into that loss.
5. Your writing is ethereal. How much does your poetry background inform your writing and do you have a preference now between novel writing vs poetry?
I’m sure my education in poetry informs all my writing, along with what I read. My preference for what I write depends on how I want to feel. Writing poetry makes me feel like my brain is moving quick, a series of magnets pushing apart and snapping together. Writing fiction makes me feel like I’m sinking deep and moving slow. It’s brought me a sort of calm that I never want to let go of.
6. Naamah’s relationship with the angel is a key component of the story. How did this character originate? In your opinion, why is she important to the story?
She’s inspired by so many of my favorite characters, my favorite angels, from Tony Kushner’s Angels in America to Kevin Smith’s Dogma to television’s Lucifer, which is based on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. The angel in my book teaches Naamah, and Naamah teaches her, so much about love and morality, and without the angel, I don’t think Naamah would be ready to speak to God by the end of the book.