Some people seem to dread this book while others love it. Without meaning to stereotype fellow readers, I know my mother would dislike this book while I loved it. My mother likes stories with clear main characters that lead the story from point A to point B, possibly with an unexpected ending that takes you to point C.
For me this book was not traditional in that sense. Instead, there are several threads of storyline, several different characters, and it's all written in the kind of proze that I personally enjoy a lot (the kind that with delicate pencil strokes describes the grey mouse of a neighbor as The Most Interesting Person That Ever Existed) that together weave into a Bigger Picture. The gigantic desk, the only thing that seems to combine the short stories at first glance, turns out to be something much greater. Nicole Krauss calls it a symbol for heritage in an interview, while readers may have found other explanations that can glue the stories together so the combination of them suddenly makes sense. It's in a way the same when you can sometimes see shapes better while looking right beside them instead of looking at them directly.
The story definitely does not take you from point A to B, there is no Satisfying Ending after which everything suddenly makes sense and it's hard to figure out how the short stories relate to each other. It does require some puzzling and thinkwork. If you don't enjoy doing that, alas, this book may not be for you.