As A.G. Mojtabai's Thirst opens, Lena has been summoned to the bedside of her ailing "brother" Theo, an aging country priest who has started to refuse food and drink. What Lena faces is complicated by the fact that she left the faith long ago.
First cousins and closest childhood friends, Theo and Lena were raised in a small Catholic farming community in Texas, named for the village their parents left behind in Germany, a place where all questions, asked and unasked, were answered for all time. The known world was bounded by the iron fence of the parish cemetery containing nearly all their dead. Beyond it lurked disorder, the dragons of unbelief.
Now faced with the mysteries of mortality and loss, both are struggling to come to terms with the choices that have defined them.
Thirst is a book hard to classify--a novella, certainly, but it is also in part a tone poem, a contemporary book of hours, and a meditation engaging issues of faith and doubt, death and healing.
Roger Rosenblatt has said of A.G. Mojtabai: "It is rare to find a gorgeous stylist and a writer of substance yoked in the same artist. Her work shows heart and unsentimental kindness that leaves the reader enlightened and wiser."