Can people repair the world? Modern secular and religious visions of justice alike presume that the answer is yes, even as those relentless dreamers who devote themselves to this mission often despair at the seeming futility of their efforts. But then this is the story of the human race since expulsion from Eden. Perhaps the one thing on which we can agree after centuries of concerted efforts is that the world looks more broken, not less. But we moderns are not so special in wrestling with this question of who can fix the world. In late antiquity, Jewish theologians first coined the term tikkun olam – literally “repair of the world,” based on Zechariah 14:9.

The novels of Eugene Vodolazkin hold visions of tikkun olam.