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The World To Come by Dara Horn
The World To Come
begins with Benjamin Ziskind stealing a Chagall painting during a singles event at a Jewish museum. Ziskind is depressed, recently divorced, and still grieving over the death of his parents, and he believes this painting to be one that used to hang in his parents' home. While Ben and his twin sister try to decide what to do with the painting, author Dara Horn (In the Image
) moves the novel back to the 1920s where Marc Chagall is teaching art to boys orphaned by pogroms in the Soviet Union. While Chagall goes on to fame and fortune, his friend the Yiddish writer Der Nister finds his life becoming bleaker the more he writes. The novel follows the Ziskind's story backwards and the painting's creation by Chagall forward, mixed with Jewish mysticism and musings on life before birth and after death. The World To Come
has received mostly positive reviews with the Washington Post saying, "It's fanciful and mystical and arguably inadequate to staunch the grief or blot out the horrors that Horn portrays so powerfully throughout this novel. But it's all tremendously earnest and fraught with moral weight, and somehow, miraculously, it stays aloft in the mind like a dream you can't decide was sweet or frightening."
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