By Michael Lowenthal
Terrace Books, $26.95, 278 pages
The Paternity Test is a searing tale of longing, as real and ordinary and instantly recognizable to any long-term relationship. For Pat and Stu longing comes in the form of parenthood, and the completeness they believe it will bring to their lives. For Debora and Danny, a couple entwined in Pat and Stu’s life on the Cape, longing stems from finding themselves in foreign territory. As an immigrant wife from Brazil, Debora attempts to rise above all that is foreign, through the shear force of her power to nurture. As Danny struggles with the demands of fatherhood, he is buoyed by Debora’s nurturing; but ultimately succumbs to the weight of it and all that it demands. Michael Lowenthal’s fourth novel may seem like the familiar trope of a relationship drama, but the story is about being the Other. The brilliance is in Lowenthal’s ability to tell stories of belonging and the anguish that not belonging can bring. This story explores sexuality, religion, place and relationships through worlds that exist on the periphery. He allows you to walk in the footsteps of the alienated and understand that in fact, alienation and longing are the human condition.
Reviewed by Julie Scott
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