This 1964 book by the Jewish Brazilian author Clarice Lispector can only be described as a meditation on bare life, capturing in its meticulous grasp both the agony and the surprising ecstasy of a society woman’s encounter with a cockroach. It is a work of depth and humor, Talmudic in its mastery of this elusive combination. With a synthesis of lyricism and charm, Lispector’s work asks, wherein consists the meaning of an “impersonal soul”? What is left of life when the grandeur of personality is stripped away? And finally, certainly the most horrifying and perhaps the most Jewish question of all: What would such a life taste like?