Why would a physically and psychologically healthy woman want to die? Because she can’t. There’s an arresting premise: eternal life as a curse. Rachel traded the possibility of her own death 2,000 years ago to save the life of her first child. Over the course of two millennia she’s been through dozens of marriages and given birth to hundreds of children. Through it all she’s had an on-again, off-again intense and infuriating relationship with her first great love, the father of her first child. This is a novel like no other: its countless twists and turns can be startling, heart-wrenching, hilarious, philosophical, uplifting, disturbing, or thought provoking – sometimes several at once. Book clubs will have a field day discussing this one!
- Banna— From Banna's New Recs
February 2018 Indie Next List
“Eternal Life is a stunningly moving and lively investigation of mortality. It is also a story of profound love - young love, eternal love, and the love of parents for their children. Rachel, whose inability to die animates the plot, is a strong, willful, and complex woman. Dara Horn, whom I have long admired, infuses the book with her profound knowledge of Judaism, without ever becoming dull or didactic. This is an ode to the joys, sorrows, and brevity of existence as seen through the improbable lens of eternal life - and it made me cry! Highly recommended.”
— Lilla Weinberger, Readers' Books, Sonoma, CA
A New York Times Notable Book of 2018
What would it really mean to live forever?
Rachel is a woman with a problem: she can’t die. Her recent troubles—widowhood, a failing business, an unemployed middle-aged son—are only the latest in a litany spanning dozens of countries, scores of marriages, and hundreds of children. In the 2,000 years since she made a spiritual bargain to save the life of her first son back in Roman-occupied Jerusalem, she’s tried everything to free herself, and only one other person in the world understands: a man she once loved passionately, who has been stalking her through the centuries, convinced they belong together forever.
But as the twenty-first century begins and her children and grandchildren—consumed with immortality in their own ways, from the frontiers of digital currency to genetic engineering—develop new technologies that could change her fate and theirs, Rachel knows she must find a way out.
Gripping, hilarious, and profoundly moving, Eternal Life celebrates the bonds between generations, the power of faith, the purpose of death, and the reasons for being alive.
About the Author
Dara Horn is a two-time winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction and one of Granta’s Best American Novelists. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children.
question at the heart of this wise and appealing novel is finally not how
Rachel finds meaning in her eternal life. It is how we, despite our portions of
sorrow, tedium and disaster, persist in finding meaning in ours.
— Joshua Max Feldman
I have been in love with Horn’s work since her first gorgeous novel, In the Image . . . [This book] simmers with Horn’s signature blend of tragedy and spirituality.
— Ron Charles
Rachel speaks with
the wisdom of the ancients when she observes that immortality offers no
consolation for the death of others. ‘Not dying doesn’t make it better,” she
says of all that sorrow. ‘It only makes it take longer.’
— Sam Sachs
To an extent, it’s the humor (and horror) of infinite diaper changes that drives this masterful page-turner. However, Eternal Life is at its core a serious meditation on the meaning of life and purpose of death.”
— Renee Ghert-Zand
As a philosophical novel, Eternal Life asks the most fundamental of questions: What makes life meaningful? Is its traditional arc, from birth through family formation to death, necessary? Is it a blessing that we insufficiently appreciate?
— Julia M. Klein
Horn does not hedge
her bets, whipping up a Jewish telenovela of ancient-world drama and
present-day complications. It’ll put you off immortality for good.
— Marion Winik
Most of us have had
days where we question if existence is worth it; some of us have experienced an
old flame that just won’t go out. In this hilarious and haunting story, Rachel,
a mere 2,000 years old, has experienced both.
The chilling pathos of Dara Horn’s Eternal Life is bound to turn every mortal reader into a philosopher of cosmic joy.
— Cynthia Ozick, author of Foreign Bodies
Eternal Life takes the psychological novel to places I’ve never seen before…Riveting, startling, hilarious, and sad—I’ve never read anything like it.
— Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot
In Eternal Life, the familiar account of the joys and sorrows of motherhood turns strange and mythical. Wisdom literature is a rare thing, and even rarer when it arrives, as it does here, in a story so passionate and playful.
— Joshua Ferris, author of The Dinner Party
An elegant musing on sacredness, history, and purpose that is, at the same time, a deliciously romantic, highly suspenseful page-turner.
— Geraldine Brooks, author of The Secret Chord