World to Come, The

Dara Horn

Published by W W Norton
ISBN 10: 0241143497 / ISBN 13: 9780241143490
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Synopsis: An intoxicating combination of mystery, spirituality, redemption, piety, and passion, The World To Come is Dara Horn's follow-up to her breakout, critically acclaimed debut novel In the Image. Using a real-life art heist as her starting point, Horn traces the life and times of several characters, including Russian-born artist Marc Chagall and the New Jersey–based Ziskind family. Benjamin Ziskind, a former child prodigy, 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 stolen from his family, Ben steals the work of art and enlists Sara to create a forgery to replace it. While trying to evade the police, Ben attempts to find the truth of how the painting got to the museum. From a Jewish orphanage in 1920s Soviet Russia where Marc Chagall brought art to orphaned Jewish boys, to a junior high school in Newark, New Jersey, with a stop in the jungles of Da Nang, Vietnam, Horn weaves a story of mystery, romance, folklore, history and theology into a spellbinding modern tale. Richly satisfying and utterly unique, her novel opens the door to "the world to come"-not life after death, but the world we create through our actions right now.

Review: Following in the footsteps of her breakout debut In the Image, Dara Horn's second novel, The World to Come, is an intoxicating combination of mystery, spirituality, redemption, piety, and passion. Using a real-life art heist as her starting point, Horn traces the life and times of several characters, including Russian-born artist Marc Chagall, the New Jersey-based Ziskind family, and the "already-weres" and "not-yets" who roam an eternal world that exists outside the boundaries of life on earth.

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

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Title: World to Come, The
Publisher: W W Norton
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: VERY GOOD

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