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The World to Come: A Novel Paperback – October 17, 2006
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At the center of the story is Benjamin Ziskind, a former child prodigy who now spends his days writing questions for a television trivia show. After Ben's twin sister Sara forces him to attend a singles cocktail party at a Jewish museum, Ben spots Over Vitebsk, a Chagall sketch that once hung in the twins' childhood home. Convinced the painting was wrongfully taken from his family, Ben steals the work of art and enlists his twin to create a forgery to replace the stolen Chagall. What follows is a series of interwoven stories that trace the life and times of the famous painting, and the fate of those who come into contact with it.
From a Jewish orphanage in 1920s Soviet Russia to a junior high school in Newark, New Jersey, with a stop in the jungles of Da Nang, Vietnam, Horn takes readers on an amazing journey through the sacred and the profane elements of the human condition. It is this expertly rendered juxtaposition of the spiritual with the secular that makes The World to Come so profound, and so compelling to readers. As we learn near the end of the beautiful tale, "The real world to come is down below--the world, in the future, as you create it." --Gisele Toueg --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In some ways, this novel reminded me of THE HISTORY OF LOVE by Nicole Krauss, another recent novel spanning several generations of Jewish families in Europe and America. Just as that was tied together by the fate of a manuscript whose history spans much of the twentieth century, so this also revolves around an artwork, or rather two of them: a small Chagall painting that is stolen from a New York museum at the start of the book, and some stories by the Yiddish writer Der Nister (the Hidden One), who ultimately met the same fate as numerous other Jewish intellectuals in Soviet Russia. Both art forms -- painting and folk tales -- offer ways of looking at the world that are instinctive rather than logical, childlike in their immediacy, and closer to religion than to fact. Both deal with other worlds.Read more ›
Horn's real talent is the ability to switch between scenes, timelines and perspectives all while keeping the interest of the reader. In many novels I find myself slogging through certain parts, biding my time to return to the characters I truly care about. All of Horn's characters are interesting, and I relished all of them equally.
Death is a common theme in the World to Come, and it is to Horn's great credit that her novel is nevertheless optimistic. The denouement may leave some readers craving for more details about exactly what happened next. That is Horn's plan, and she executes it with brilliance.
This beautifully written, multidimensional novel will have broad appeal to lovers of historical fiction, symbolic literature, mystery, romance and much, much more. The novel is deep and philosophical, but also is just plain fun to read with colorful characters and a suspenseful plot that smoothly carries the reader between different time periods and places. A lot of research obviously went into this work, and readers learn interesting, little-known facts about Marc Chagall's art, Yiddish literature, and Russian and American history by osmosis.
What makes art famous and what does it mean to own it? How does our family shape our destiny? When do we encounter "the world to come"? The book touches upon these questions and leaves you with even more. I guarantee you will be thinking it over after you have turned the last page. That is the sign of a great novel, and this book definitely deserves your consideration.
The most pressing question for me is ... when does Dara Horn's third novel come out?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the most brilliant books I have ever read. Totally original. The last chapter has the most unique amazing imagery of...(forget it don't want to spoil it). Read morePublished 1 month ago by DebraOliver
My only regret is that I read it too quickly and now I am finished. Powerful, emotional and transforming. WowPublished 4 months ago by Eve
Interesting book, well written with great plot and ideas to ponderPublished 5 months ago by Barbara Weller Pond
I read this book when it first came out in 2006. All I remember of it was that I loved it.
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World to come was full of word pictures. The characters were as ephemeral and haunting as the paintings from which they emerged and to which they gave meaning, at once a history,... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Brigga Näherin
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I have read it about a half of a dozen times =)Published 6 months ago by Amanda H.
The stories of the characters living today are never completed or fully developed. Ends oddly. Seems to jump around more than is interesting or useful. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Martha