- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Knopf (January 15, 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1524732710
- ISBN-13: 978-1524732714
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 144 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love Hardcover – January 15, 2019
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A Washington Post, Vulture, Bustle, Real Simple, PopSugar, and LitHub Most Anticipated Book of 2019
"Profound... The true drama of Inheritance is not Shapiro’s discovery of her father’s identity but the meaning she makes of it...Shapiro’s account is beautifully written and deeply moving — it brought me to tears more than once."
—Ruth Franklin, The New York Times Book Review
"Inheritance reads like an emotional detective story...Shapiro is skilled at spinning her personal explorations into narrative gold... Life has handed her rich material. But her books work not just because the situations she writes about are inherently dramatic and relatable. Her prose is clear and often lovely, and her searching questions are unfailingly intelligent... The relevance of Shapiro's latest memoir extends beyond her own personal experience. Inheritance broaches issues about the moral ramifications of genealogical surprises."
"Poignant...Origin stories are among the most powerful that exist because they shape people’s identities and anchor them—to a culture, a place and other people. When stories about the past change, Ms. Shapiro argues, so does the future...In losing the genetic connection to the man who raised her, Ms. Shapiro gained new insight into their enduring bond."
—The Wall Street Journal
"A profound and exquisitely rendered exploration of identity and the true meaning of family."
"Dani Shapiro can tell this story like no one else could... Smart, psychologically astute and not afraid to tell it like it is."
"An incredible work of investigation and self-reflection... A thrilling and emotional ride... The story’s beating heart is Shapiro herself... Written with generosity and honesty, Inheritance takes the modern phenomenon of casual DNA testing and builds a deeply personal narrative around it. The result is a vital, necessary read from a talented author."
"A remarkable, dogged, emotional journey... Inheritance reads like a mystery, unfolding minute by minute and day by day. The reader experiences the grief, surprises and setbacks right along with the author... Shapiro’s book is a wise and thorough examination of how this news affected her. She is a good guide for the bombshells that are yet to explode for so many families."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Inheritance will speak to anyone interested in identity, in family, in a story told with great insight and honesty and heart."
—San Francisco Chronicle
“A fascinating and pertinent look into the murky world of medical ethics, as well as the kind of profound, insightful look into the meaning of love and connection that we’ve come to expect from Shapiro.”
"An introspective mystery."
"In Inheritance, Shapiro movingly reckons with identity and family secrets."
"Fascinating... With thoughtful candor, [Shapiro] explores the ethical questions surrounding sperm donation, the consequences of DNA testing, and the emotional impact of having an uprooted religious and ethnic identity. This beautifully written, thought-provoking genealogical mystery will captivate readers from the very first pages."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"For all the trauma that the discovery put her through, Shapiro recognizes that what she had experienced was 'a great story'—one that has inspired her best book."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Page after page, Shapiro displays adisarming honesty and an acute desire to know the unknowable."
—Booklist (starred review)
“Inheritance is Dani Shapiro at her best: a gripping genetic detective story, and a meditation on the meaning of parenthood and family. It raises profound questions about the quandaries and responsibilities engendered by our newfound ability to know what—and whom—we are made of.”
—Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach
“With Inheritance, Dani Shapiro tells a startling story of origins—their deep reach and their lasting reverberations. This book reads like a beautiful, lived novel, moving and personal and true.”
—Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion
“When Dani Shapiro discovers, purely by accident, that the father who raised her was not her biological father, she embarks upon a profound journey of understanding. What is ancestry? What is identity? Inheritance is a compulsively-readable investigation into selfhood that burrows to the heart of what it means to accept, to love, and to belong.”
—Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See
“Inheritance is an extraordinary memoir that speaks to themes as current as today’s headlines and as old as human history. With unflinching curiosity and candor, Dani Shapiro explores the mystery of her own lineage as she questions the notion of lineage itself: What makes a father a father? And how are we shaped by our family lore? This beautifully crafted book is full of wisdom and heart, showing that what we don’t know about our parents may not be as important as what we do.”
—Will Schwalbe, author of Books for Living and The End of Your Life Book Club
“Identity is frail business, and in her searing story, Dani Shapiro makes the most disquieting discovery: that everything, from her lineage, to her father, down to her very own sense of self is an astounding error. How do we live with ourselves after finding we are not who we thought we were? The answer is not disquieting. It is beautiful.”
—Andre Aciman, author of Call Me by Your Name
About the Author
DANI SHAPIRO is the author of the memoirs Hourglass, Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion and five novels including Black & White and Family History. Also an essayist and a journalist, Shapiro's short fiction, essays, and journalistic pieces have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, Vogue, O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, the op-ed pages of the New York Times, and many other publications. She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, the New School, and Wesleyan University; she is cofounder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. She lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
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Extensive introspection wasn't what I thought I had signed up for when I bought this book, but it turned out to be fascinating enough that I read it in one sitting.
Dani discovers, almost by accident, after her half-sister, mentions that she might want to take a DNA test, that their father is not her biological father. She is 54 when she learns this news. Looking back, there have been numerous hints over the course of her life, that she never pursued, that indicated that this might have been the case, but she never had reason to explore or question if her father was indeed her biological father. After all, she loved him. And, this is not something that occurs to most people. Even if she felt that she didn’t belong, in the sense of feeling different or looking different, her father was her person and her family, her people.
What she pieces together, along with the help of her husband, other members of her remaining extended family, and elderly friends of her long-deceased father, is remarkable.
I cried so often over the course of reading the book. For Dani's memory and what it would become or how it would be altered and for her love of a man who seemed bigger than life both during the time that he was alive and long after he died. For her caring, loving, and insightful elderly aunt who summed up Dani’s existence and place in their family with words that any person, lost or otherwise, deserves to hear and her display of true love that I hope envelop her for the rest of her years. For the miracle of science and social media, despite its weaknesses, how it can bring people together in ways we could never have imagined.
INHERITANCE is the experience of family dynamics, medical ethics, the culture of Orthodox Judaism, the wonder of memory, and complicated grief.