Books: When It Rains, It Pours

Biblical characters are fiction's hot heroes. Now a first-time novelist takes us onto the ark with Noah

Back in his early, funny days, Bill Cosby used to do a pretty good routine about Noah's ark. "You're supposed to see all and know all," Noah tells God. "Well, have you seen the bottom of that ark? Who's going to clean up that mess?"

Cosby was ahead of his time. There's a bit of a boom in biblical fiction these days: Jacob's four wives got the novelistic treatment in Anita Diamant's The Red Tent, and this spring brought us Rebecca Kohn's The Gilded Chamber, starring Esther, and Marek Halter's Sarah, which gamely fills in that figure's early life and makes...

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