A Guide for the Perplexed: A Novel (Paperback)

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"[An] intense, multilayered story." —Jami Attenberg, New York Times Book Review


Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented an application that records everything its users do. When she visits the Library of Alexandria as a tech consultant, she is abducted in Egypt’s postrevolutionary chaos with only a copy of the philosopher Maimonides’ famous work to anchor her—leaving her jealous sister Judith free to take over her life. A century earlier, Cambridge professor Solomon Schechter arrives in Egypt, hunting for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue. Their stories intertwine in this spellbinding novel of how technology changes memory and how memory shapes the soul.



About the Author


Dara Horn is the author of five acclaimed and award-winning novels. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children.

Praise For…


So beautiful, so mystical, so exciting…I really urge you to read Dara Horn.
— Bill Goldstein, NBC’s Weekend Today Show

It’s not every day you come across a genuinely page-turning kidnapping story that is also replete with historical, psychological, and interpretive insights into Maimonides, envy, and motherhood, not to mention replicating the narrative structure and central themes of the biblical story of Joseph. A Guide for the Perplexed is Dara Horn’s most ambitious, audacious, edifying, and entertaining novel yet.

— Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot and The Possessed

Wondrous…riveting and suspenseful…A novelist at the height of her powers.
— Andrew Ferman - Miami Herald

[A] humane, erudite novel.
— Saul Austerlitz - Boston Globe

Horn moves seamlessly back and forth in time.
— Entertainment Weekly

Intricate and suspenseful, A Guide for the Perplexed is both learned and heartfelt, an exploration of human memory, its uses and misuses, that spans centuries in a twisty braid full of jaw dropping revelations and breathtaking reversals. An elegant and brainy page-turner from a master storyteller.

— Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Caleb’s Crossing

Riveting…This is extraordinary material, emotionally resonant and intellectually suggestive, and Horn’s portraits of the sisters are wonderfully ambiguous…[Horn] interweaves historical and contemporary tales to create intriguing echoes and layers of metaphor…Horn’s searing family drama easily encompasses whole worlds of political, philosophical and moral conflicts…Beautifully written and overwhelmingly sad.
— Wendy Smith - Washington Post

Computer science and medieval philosophy mesh in Dara Horn’s accomplished novel about digital dangers and the nature of memory.
— Barbara Kiser - Nature

[Within A Guide for the Perplexed] beats the living heart of a very human drama, one that will have readers both caught up in the suspense and moved by the tragic dimensions of the unresolved dilemma at the core of the story.

— Booklist (starred review)

Horn is embracing her own, livelier brand of Jewish history, embodied in the joys of discovering—and creating—the past anew.
— Tablet Magazine


Product Details
ISBN: 9780393348880
ISBN-10: 0393348881
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: April 7th, 2014
Pages: 368
Language: English