Sarah Blake

By – February 25, 2019

In her debut nov­el, Sarah Blake vivid­ly con­veys the sto­ry of Noah and the Ark from an unusu­al per­spec­tive — that of Noah’s wife, Naamah. Blake writes with strong, sen­su­al, mod­ern lan­guage, and uti­lizes time trav­el and dream sequences to cre­ate a mul­ti­lay­ered sto­ry. With this book, Blake has tak­en one of the best-known bib­li­cal tales and opened it up in ways both inven­tive and provocative.

Naamah is filled with the sights, scents, and sounds of Naamah, Noah, and their family’s try­ing exis­tence on the Ark. Blake brings this world alive in many ways, from detailed descrip­tions of the con­struc­tion of the Ark and prepa­ra­tions for the jour­ney, to the day-to-day prac­ti­cal­i­ties of liv­ing with a lit­er­al boat­load of crea­tures who need to be fed, cleaned up after, cared for, and con­trolled. This is not to men­tion the inter­ac­tions among the eight peo­ple liv­ing on the Ark: Naamah, Noah, their three sons, and three daughters-in-law.

Blake exam­ines Naamah’s com­plex inner life: the pain of leav­ing behind a lover, her rela­tion­ship with an angel, her rela­tion­ship with God. She also explores the psy­cho­log­i­cal impli­ca­tions Naamah, Noah, and their chil­dren face as the last eight peo­ple left on Earth — their guilt, con­fu­sion, and anx­i­ety, and the weight of the respon­si­bil­i­ties that lie ahead of them. Here is Naamah speak­ing to her fam­i­ly before they enter the Ark: This is the last time you will see a crowd of peo­ple. Enjoy them. Observe them. Remem­ber what you can. And don’t try to stick togeth­er. Soon we’ll all be togeth­er more than we can stand.”

With Naamah, Blake pro­vides insights both unique and mov­ing, and makes an ancient tale feel vibrant and rel­e­vant to today.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Sarah Blake

  1. What parts of the sto­ry of Noah’s ark had you nev­er con­sid­ered before read­ing this book?

  2. If you were Naamah, would you have stayed with Noah or gone with the angel?

  3. Blake has acknowl­edged that she may have acci­den­tal­ly cre­at­ed a new ori­gin sto­ry for the dev­il with her sto­ry of the angel under the water. What does this inter­pre­ta­tion bring to your read­ing of the book?

  4. What were your favorite (or least favorite) things about Naamah’s character?

  5. Where does Naamah’s courage come from?

  6. Why do you think Naamah can’t see the ani­mals sometimes?

  7. How does Naamah’s idea of faith change through­out the nov­el — or does it?

  8. What role does sex and inti­ma­cy play in Naamah’s life? What role does it play in her search for her own faith?

  9. How did your own rela­tion­ship with faith influ­ence how you read this book?

  10. What duty do we have to pre­serve the past? What duty do we have to influ­ence the future?

A com­pelling work of debut fic­tion, Naamah trans­ports the read­er to the boat in the Bib­li­cal sto­ry of Noah’s Ark and intro­duces us to Noah’s wife, Naamah. Sto­ry­telling at its finest with lyri­cal prose, mag­i­cal real­ism, a provoca­tive and intel­li­gent reimag­in­ing, Sarah Blake gives us a female hero who holds every­one togeth­er through the storms, while strug­gling for answers about her and her family’s uncer­tain future. Naamah is a com­plex, spir­i­tu­al, and pow­er­ful woman with tremen­dous insight mixed with angst and wor­ry about the world she lives in. With a fresh voice, Blake has brought Naamah to the con­tem­po­rary world of lit­er­a­ture and made her rel­e­vant today.