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The World to Come by Dara Horn Review

Title: The World to Come

Author: Dara Horn

First published January 27, 2006

336 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780393329063 (ISBN10: 0393329062)

Rating: 3.86


During a singles’ cocktail hour, a valuable painting goes missing from a museum. The thief, a former child prodigy named Benjamin Ziskind, claims that the painting belonged to his parents and was once displayed in their living room.

As the investigation unfolds, the painting becomes a portal that transports us through time, revealing a complex and fascinating family history. From a Soviet orphanage where the famous artist Marc Chagall taught, to the suburbs of New Jersey, and even the battlefields of Vietnam, this story is a captivating exploration of the human experience and the power of art to connect us all.

About the Author

Meet Dara Horn, accomplished author of the novels All Other Nights, The World to Come, and In the Image. Her works have earned her the esteemed title of one of Granta’s “Best Young American Novelists” and two National Jewish Book Awards.

When she’s not writing, Dara resides in New Jersey with her loving husband and four wonderful children.

Editoral Review

The World to Come by Dara Horn is a captivating novel that explores themes of identity, memory, and the search for meaning in the face of loss. Published on January 27, 2006, this book provides a unique perspective on Jewish history and culture, blending elements of magical realism, family drama, and historical fiction.

Horn is a prolific writer who has garnered numerous awards and critical acclaim for her literary works. Her previous novels, including The Book of Esther and All Other Nights, have established her as an authoritative voice in the American Jewish literary tradition.

In The World to Come, she continues to showcase her exceptional talents as a storyteller. Set in contemporary New York and 18th-century Europe, the novel follows the lives of three generations of a Jewish family as they grapple with questions of faith, heritage, and legacy.

At the heart of the story is Benjamin Ziskind, a young art historian who becomes embroiled in a mystery surrounding a lost masterpiece by the famous Jewish painter, Chagall. As he delves deeper into the painting’s history, he uncovers a web of secrets that connects him to his family’s past in unexpected ways.

The novel’s characters are richly drawn and deeply flawed, each struggling to come to terms with their own personal demons. From Benjamin’s estranged grandmother, who survived the Holocaust but lost her entire family, to his emotionally distant mother and his troubled girlfriend, Horn imbues each of her characters with a sense of authenticity and complexity that makes them feel like real people.

Horn’s writing is both lyrical and precise, capturing the nuances of language and experience in a way that is deeply affecting. Her descriptions of the artwork and landscapes that populate the novel are vivid and evocative, transporting the reader to far-off places and times.

She also seamlessly weaves historical events and cultural traditions into the narrative, providing a rich tapestry of context and detail that adds depth and resonance to the story. Overall, The World to Come is a powerful meditation on the human condition, exploring the ways in which our pasts shape our present and our futures.

As we grapple with the legacy of systemic racism, climate change, and political upheaval, this novel feels particularly relevant, reminding us of the importance of family, community, and the search for meaning in a rapidly changing world. While there are moments when the novel’s structure feels somewhat fragmented or disjointed, overall, it is a deeply satisfying read that leaves a lasting impression.

For anyone interested in Jewish culture or history, or simply looking for a thought-provoking and beautifully written novel, The World to Come is not to be missed. Rating: 4.5/5