“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
A Booklist Editors’ Choice
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of the Year
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 the author of five novels and was 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 family.
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
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
A mature, wry, uniquely female take on the problem of immortality. — Chelsea Leu - Los Angeles Review of Books
Passionate, playful, and poignant. — Parade
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’s] lyrical sentences, sharp intellect and originality place her among the finest American Jewish novelists writing today. — Sandee Brawarsky - Jewish Week
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
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
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
Riveting, startling, hilarious, and sad—I’ve never read anything like it. — Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot
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 Horse
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 A Calling for Charlie Barnes