I heard Naomi Alderman read from her novel The Liars’ Gospel at an event in 2012. It is a mystery to me why I’ve not yet got around to reading the book, because I thought Alderman’s excerpt was superb – visceral (literally so, as it described the ritual sacrifice of a lamb) and evocative. Her story in the Granta anthology, ‘Soon and In Our Days’, is very different, but just as good.

We join the Rosenbaum family at their home in Hendon for Passover. As the father of the household recites the verses that call forth the Prophet Elijah, down comes Elijah, fiery chariot and all, saying, ‘Happy Passover to you. Have I missed much?’ What follows is a comedy of misunderstanding (‘What is “Yogacizing”? And “The 30-day Body Cleanse?” Some sort of ritual bath?’) and situation (how are the Rosenbaums going to look after those fiery horses?) that made me laugh out loud. Alderman’s straight-faced tone makes the story, but she also captures how the locals’ rather English reserve rubs up against Elijah’s directness. Great stuff, which further underlines that I ought to read more of Alderman’s work.

This is part of a series of posts on Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4Click here to read the rest.

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