Nicole Krauss’ latest has won plaudits a plenty (“A brilliant novel. I am full of admiration.” – Philip Roth) but it left me cold. Its duel narrative takes us into the lives of two Jewish characters: Jules, a rich and successful businessman, and Nicole a – SOUND THE META KLAXON ALERT! – novelist struck down with writer’s block. Both are struggling with their identity and place in the world and are drawn away from the US to the Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv. The novel begins with Jules’ disappearance in Israel, with the rest of his tale being told in flashback, while Nicole gets caught up in a brouhaha involving Kafka’s unpublished works. There are great chunks of the novel that are brilliant, including a deal of sly humour, but we also get baffling loungers on the nature of existence featuring lines such as: “But in a multiverse, the concepts of known and unknown are rendered useless, for everything is equally known and unknown.” In this particular forest, I’m afraid I couldn’t see the wood for the thesis.