A million-dollar painting by Marc Chagall is stolen from a museum. The unlikely
thief is Benjamin Ziskind, a thirty-year-old quiz-show writer. As Benjamin and
his twin sister try to evade the police, they find themselves recalling their
dead parentsthe father who lost a leg in Vietnam, the mother who created
children's booksand their stories about trust, loss, and betrayal.
What is true, what is fake, what does it mean? Eighty years before the theft, these questions haunted Chagall and the enigmatic Yiddish fabulist Der Nister ("The Hidden One"), teachers at a school for Jewish orphans. Both the painting and the questions will travel through time to shape the Ziskinds' futures.
With astonishing grace and simplicity, Dara Horn interweaves a real art heist, history, biography, theology, and Yiddish literature. Richly satisfying, 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.
There used to be many families like the Ziskinds, families where
each person always knew that his life was more than his alone. Families like
that still exist, but because there are so few of them, they have become
insular, isolated, their sentiment that the family is the center of the universe
broadened to imply that nothing outside the family is worth anything. If you are
from one of these families, you believe this, and you always will.
Lately it had begun to seem to Benjamin Ziskind that the entire world was dead, that he was a citizen of a necropolis. While his parents were living, Ben had thought about them only when it made sense to think about them, when he was talking to them, or talking about them, or planning something involving them. But now they were always here, reminding him of their presence at every moment. He saw them in the streets, always from behind, or turning a corner, his father sitting in the bright yellow taxi next to his, shifting in ...
Dara Horn was
inspired to write The World
To Come following an actual
theft of a Marc Chagall painting
from a museum in New York that
took place during a singles'
More about this.
The painting that Benjamin Ziskind steals from the museum, Study for "Over Vitebsk", is, I assume, fictitious. However Over Vitebsk itself does exist, and can be seen in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York. Vitebsk was the town in which Chagall was born and ...
If you liked The World To Come, try these:
A hilarious, heartbreaking, and intellectually captivating novel about the rapture and torments of religious experience in all its variety.
When her family is destroyed in a Russian pogrom, Lillian comes to America alone, determined to make her way in a new land. When word comes that her daughter, Sophie, might still be alive, Lillian embarks on an odyssey that takes her from the world of the Yiddish theater on New Yorks Lower East Side, to Seattles Jazz District, and up to...
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