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Jacob’s Folly 

Rebecca Miller (HarperCollins)

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My vote for oddest literary fiction of the year goes to the story of Jacob, an orthodox Jewish street peddler from 18th-century France, who becomes ill, dies and is reincarnated as a housefly in modern-day Long Island. As a fly, he quickly realizes he can read the minds and desires of the odd strangers he's been sent to watch over: a middle-aged hero named Leslie and a beautiful, confused Jewish girl, Masha. As Miller deftly vacillates between stories of Jacob's life in France and his wicked housefly antics, we're given a glimpse into the fascinating world of orthodox Jewish tradition and custom, while the connections between these unsettled, unfulfilled characters are littered like breadcrumbs in a strange land. A gorgeous, utterly unique exploration and invocation of the Jewish religion, and a gripping tale of a crooked family tree, Jacob's Folly is bewitching.

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