A modern retelling of the story from the Hebrew Bible, with a corporate lawyer standing in for Jonah and Amsterdam for the belly of the whale.
In the beginning, Jonah Daniel Jacobstein seems to be on top of the world. He’s got two girlfriends, is making lots of money and is about to be made a partner at his law firm. But coming in on the subway one day, he has an encounter with a Hasidic Jew who questions him about the biblical Jonah, and this conversation profoundly unsettles Jacobstein, a nonobservant Jew. Still, life is good—or seems to be—but then things quickly begin to unravel. He decides to break off one romance (with Zoey) and commit to another (with Sylvia), but then both of these relationships end up falling apart. His law firm assigns him a prestigious and lucrative client, but he sends a compromising email and gets fired. His life, in other words, is scarcely what it seems and in fact is subject to almost Job-ian reversals. Parallel to Jonah’s story is that of Judith, a precocious child and then a promising academic art historian who’s lost both her parents in the 9/11 attacks. After his life falls apart, Jonah drifts to Amsterdam, where he lives a calm but somewhat drug-addled life, and eventually, his path crosses with that of Judith’s (now Judy), who’s also adrift.
Feldman is clever in his use of the Jonah story, and his novel is of the same strange and enigmatic quality as the original.