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Only Begotten Daughter (Harvest Book) Paperback – February 28, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Murray Katz, the celibate keeper of an abandoned lighthouse near Atlantic City, has been blessed with a daughter conceived of his own seed and a holy ovum. Like her half brother Jesus, Julie Katz can walk on water, heal the blind, and raise the dead. But being the Messiah isn't easy, and Julie, bewildered by her role in the divine scheme of things, is tempted by the Devil and challenged by neo- Christian zealots in this lively odyssey through Hell and New Jersey. Winner of the World Fantasy Award.

From Publishers Weekly

Morrow's flamboyant fantasy satire concerns the misadventures of a Jewish recluse in New Jersey who accidentally fathers God's daughter.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Harvest Book
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (February 28, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156002434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156002431
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is the most loving, incisive, courageous view of god I've encountered in 25 years of study in comparative religion and comparative mythology, as well as in 20 years as a minister. I won't repeat the book's plot structure, whose major details other reviewers have already given. Morrow's gift is to grapple with difficult issues that the world's leading religions don't like to touch, because they're messy and there are no pat answers: --What is the nature of divinity, and how can it act in the world? --Why does god allow suffering? Why do people cause it? --How do we account for the fact that so many of god's most rabid followers seem to be the most violent, maladjusted, and lost people, motivated by fear and despising the wonderful gifts of life on earth? --What is the nature of god and heaven, "the devil" and hell? --What would Jesus think about all this? --How can a woman claim her divinity in a world stocked with people who demonize everything feminine--including love, embodiment, compassion, and women themselves? --How is it possible to survive in a world largely inhabited by frightened, tiny-minded people who create a god in their own image, who project their worst weaknesses and tendencies onto "him," and who are closed to feeling or thinking, handing themselves over to being led by wiggy neurotics or violent psychotics? (After all, throughout religious history it seems to be highly religious people who do the most persecuting, create the most grief for other people, and hate the world that they claim god created.) --What would a mature spirituality look like--one grown past the father complexes and adolescent viewpoints of fundamentalism?Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
"The Universe was a PhD thesis that God was unable to successfully defend." (p. 212)
If God is the Eternal Light, then why do His children live in such darkness? James Morrow wrestles with the age-old challenge of theodicy--how can an all-Good and all-Powerful Deity allow a world with suffering? His vehicle in this excursion is God's daughter, a fertilized ovum found in a male sperm donation, and brought to term in an artificial uterus.
The world is indeed a dark place, and Julie Katz, (That's "Miss God" to you!) seems to find herself in some of the darkest corners. Why is God so distant? Why are miracles so useless?
Religious fanatics and Devout Believers in Scientism both show up in bad form in this book. If you're an existentialist with a dark sense of humor, you'll love reading this. If you're a devout, evangelical Christian, I suspect you won't have as much fun.
Morrow writes well, he dares to tread on the teats of many a sacred cow, and he does so exquisitely well. For those who find their understanding of God and religion offended, I offer you this quote from Julie Katz "If somebody kick your right buttock, turn the other cheek." (p. 260)
Although the characters are somewhat charicaturish, they each have their own depth, motivation, and occasionally act to surprise the reader. The leading characters are more archetypal than human, and that is part of the book's power.
Morrow gets five stars for a solid, well engineered plot. Five stars for characters who live beyond the pages of the books & occasionally drift into our dreams. Five more stars for telling it well, with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Courage. Morrow gets about five billion stars for courage--after all, he's insulted every fundamentalist this side of Venus.
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Format: Paperback
Morrow spins the yarn this time about Julie Katz, the product of a Holy Ovum and Murray Katz's - Jewish lighthouse keeper and bibliophile - divinely ordained semen. Julie Katz's search for identity, heritage, and happiness leads her on a wild ride through Hell and the tri-state area. James Morrow's engaging, concrete style offers up a compelling and seamless blend of irreverence and sentimentality which, though often emotional, is never, ever maudlin. Not for those - religious or otherwise - with no sense of humour. I recommend Morrow's writings - any of them, particularly the Towing Jehovah series - only for the open-minded and for those who can have a good laugh without fear of eternal damnation (but we're all damned anyway, right?) :-) Pay particular attention to what Jesus says about the eucharist. In short, a five-star rating does not do justice to this book. I'd venture to give it more just for the laughs I got from reading the outraged "You shouldn't say those things about Jehovah!" reviews listed below.
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Format: Hardcover
What I like about James Morrow is his audaciousness. He's willing to come up with an idea in the grand old SF tradition, i.e., BIG, and then run with it. Take "Daughter Earth," a story in which a planet is born to a nice northeast couple, or "City of Truth," a story about a city where no one ever lies. Or here in this novel, in which a new saviour is sent to the world, but it's a girl this time. From immaculate conception--she evolves from her jewish father's sperm donation--to being tested by the devil at an Atlantic City casino modeled after Dante's Hell, Morrow keeps throwing the wild concepts and ideas at you straight out of left field. And what ostensibly seems a fantasy--God's daughter and all--yet still has some of the trappings of SF and reality; she is born using an artificial womb, when she returns to earth New Jersey has become a totalitarian, evangelistic state that is a cross of Heinlein's Revolt in 2010 and King's The Running Man.
While for some it was the ending here that they remember (I won't spoil it), for me the best part was when God's only begotten daughter meets God's only begotten son and explained what had happened on earth after his departure. "They eat me," he says, referring to the Eucharist. "Disgusting."
Jill says that if you were of the total God-fearing type, then you would probably be offended by this book. She feels that an aethiest wouldn't like it much either, for as much as it "blasphemes," it comes out fairly spiritual. For those of us who can stand having religion poked at (like, at least Morrow wasn't targeted by the Pope for assassination following the printing of this book), it's a bunch of laughs among some interesting theological play.
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