Eternal Life: A Novel (Paperback)
Rachel is a mother living in first century Jerusalem, who makes a pact with God in order for her son to recover from an illness: if he lives she will not be able to die. The story from there moves back and forth between her life in ancient Jerusalem and present day America, where she is an elderly widow dealing with her youngest son's failures. Horn has written a great meditation on the meaning of death and life, family, faith, and parenthood. An impressive and Entertaining book.— Wayne
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 Book Review Notable Book of 2018, Booklist Editors’ Choice Book (January 2019), and Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2018
What would it really mean to live forever?
Rachel’s current troubles—a middle-aged son mining digital currency in her basement, a scientist granddaughter trying to peek into her genes—are only the latest in a litany spanning dozens of countries, scores of marriages, hundreds of children, and 2,000 years, going back to Roman-occupied Jerusalem. Only one person shares her immortality: an illicit lover who pursues her through the ages. But when her children develop technologies that could change her fate, Rachel must find a way out. From ancient religion to the scientific frontier, Dara Horn pits our efforts to make life last against the deeper challenge of making life worth living.
About the Author
Dara Horn is the author of five novels and one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. She has taught Jewish literature at Harvard, Sarah Lawrence College, and Yeshiva University. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children.
I have been in love with Horn’s work since her first gorgeous novel, In the Image.… [Eternal Life] shimmers with Horn’s signature blend of tragedy and spirituality.
— Ron Charles - Washington Post
Riveting, startling, hilarious, and sad—I’ve never read anything like it.
— Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot
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 - Forward
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
A mature, wry, uniquely female take on the problem of immortality.
— Chelsea Leu - Los Angeles Review of Books
Passionate, playful, and poignant.
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 - Times of Israel
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
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 - Wall Street Journal
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 - Newsday