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Sunday, May 16, 2010


There are, literally, two different versions of this novel. The male version and the female version differ by a fairly short paragraph. And the paragraph is not all that different. They both make sense relative to the paragraph above and below, which are identical.

This is a book that is blocks of text. After an introduction, the next three sections, which correspond to the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian sources on the question of the Khazar's conversion to Judaism, can be read in any order. We may read these huge blocks of texts in any order we want. Then, apparently, the appendices and closing note we read last.

But, maybe not. In the end is a list of main characters. We can trace each one as they appear in each of the main sections, and that, too, is a way of blocking.

This book demands a read and a rereading. And maybe more. We must enter and exit in different places, come to inhabit it. It is true that we come to inhabit most good novels, but with them a literary convention pulls us through: we start at page one and end at the last page of the book.

Here, the only way to come to inhabit the book is to give that up, to inhabit it at different angles, and other ones. To enter many doors. To leave through many others.

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