Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented an application that records everything its users do. When an Egyptian library invites her to visit as a consultant, her jealous sister Judith persuades her to go. But in Egypt’s post-revolutionary chaos, Josie is abducted—leaving Judith free to take over Josie’s life at home, including her husband and daughter, while Josie’s talent for preserving memories becomes a surprising test of her empathy and her only means of escape.
A century earlier, another traveler arrives in Egypt: Solomon Schechter, a Cambridge professor hunting for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue. Both he and Josie are haunted by the work of the medieval philosopher Moses Maimonides, a doctor and rationalist who sought to reconcile faith and science, destiny and free will. But what Schechter finds, as he tracks down the remnants of a thousand-year-old community’s once-vibrant life, will reveal the power and perils of what Josie’s ingenious work brings into being: a world where nothing is ever forgotten.
An engrossing adventure that intertwines stories from Genesis, medieval philosophy, and the digital frontier, A Guide for the Perplexed is a novel of profound inner meaning and astonishing imagination.
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“[A Guide for the Perplexed] is just so beautiful and so mystical and so exciting… I really want to urge people to read Dara Horn.” – Bill Goldstein, NBC Today show
“What do computerized data storage, sibling rivalry, the Book of Ruth, and Egyptian uncertainty after the Arab Spring have in common? They’re all part of this latest work about two crucial aspects of being human: the ability to remember and to love. Horn has already proven herself by being named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists and winning two National Jewish Book Awards. A sure bet.” — Library Journal
“[A]nother richly textured blend of history, psychology, religion, and human emotion . . . beneath all that 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)
“Dara Horn’s best. . . . Horn frames a contest between predetermination and free will in which her characters are each humbled, a religious dialogue taking the form of this humane, erudite novel.” – The Boston Globe
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Reading Group Guide: Available here from W. W. Norton & Co.
Order A Guide for the Perplexed at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble,
iBooks , Powell’s or your local Independent book store.
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String Theory: A Prequel to A Guide for the Perplexed (Available in eBook)
Sibling rivalry runs in the family—a prequel to A Guide for the Perplexed.
In 1980, Jacqueline Luria, the first female physics doctoral candidate in her university’s history, has emerged from her ultra-Orthodox upbringing into a secular world where she tries to untangle the origins of the universe. Then she meets Roger Ashkenazi, a mathematician studying fractals and starting to question his own atheist ideas. Their insights into the world’s repeating patterns cannot prepare them for the coming disaster of their marriage—or its impact on their daughters, one an average child and the other a genuine genius. The rivalry between Judith Ashkenazi and her wildly successful sister Josie, who invents a software program to catalog every kind of memory, will fuel the page-turning plot of Dara Horn’s critically acclaimed novel A Guide for the Perplexed.
“String Theory” takes its readers to the farthest edges of knowledge and the limits of freedom, on a journey from doubt to faith and back again. In its double helix of free will and fate, it anticipates the terrifying consequences, borne out in A Guide for the Perplexed, of asking children to fulfill their parents’ dreams.