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Benjamin Ziskind, a former child prodigy, now spends his days writing questions for a television trivia show. After Ben's twin sister Sara forces him to attend a singles cocktail party at a Jewish museum, Ben spots Over Vitebsk, a Chagall sketch that once hung in the twins' childhood home. Convinced the painting was stolen from his family, Ben steals the work of art and enlists Sara to create a forgery to replace it. While trying to evade the police, Ben attempts to find the truth of how the painting got to the museum.
From a Jewish orphanage in 1920s Soviet Russia where Marc Chagall taught art to orphaned Jewish boys, to a junior high school in Newark, New Jersey, with a stop in the jungles of Da Nang, Vietnam, Horn weaves a story of mystery, romance, folklore, history, and theology into a spellbinding modern tale. 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.
"A deeply satisfying literary mystery and a funny-sad meditation on how the past haunts the present, and how we haunt the future." (Time)
"Spellbinding....A compelling collage of history, mystery, theology, and scripture, The World to Come is a narrative tour de force crackling with conundrums and dark truths." (Booklist)
Dara Horn has created a masterpiece that contain many wonderful things and is vividly portrayed in this audio reading. So much of the novel is like a story told to a child and has ironic sophistication through the eyes of the characters especially the twin lead characters when they were children. These oral narrative aspects make the novel even better when heard rather than read (although I will read it for a second experience since it is such a fine work of literature.) Horn weaves together story lines that trace through several generations of a Russian American Jewish family- tales that are both hilarious and profoundly moving and philosophical. I learned so much about art, spirituality, Chagal, Yiddish story telling, and many new ways to look at living, survival, and the meaning of death and life. Dara Horn's use of language and detail motifs is just short of brilliant and most original. Anyone who has an interest in religion, cultural adaptation, and transformational spirituality, must experience this multi- layered book.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I found this to be one of the most enjoyable of the 200 + books on tape that I have listened to. It belongs right up there with other great "reads" such as "The History of Love" and "The Book Thief". If you liked those two, you'll like this one as well. The story was fascinating, the writing was excellent and, contrary to what the previous reviewers have said, I thought that the narration was very good. I highly recommend this book.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
This novel should rate a 3 1/2 or 4. In particular, the imaginative integration of Jewish stories and folk-tales works well.
However, the reading is ABBYSMAL. The narrator's voice is wimpy and poorly nuanced at the best of times. But when he represents the dialogue of female characters he seems almost to be deliberately parodying them.
Readers like John Lee (The Sea) or George Hearn (Eventide) meet their material and even elevate it. Both know how to signal a female voice effectively. This reader, by contrast, made hearing the book really difficult.
It's a tribute to the strength of the book, and particular to the ways it intrigued me, that I persisted to the end.
I've listened to many, many books on tape. The is the worst reading I've ever encountered.
8 of 10 people found this review helpful
Would you consider the audio edition of The World to Come to be better than the print version?
Chagall sounds like Kermit the Frog. The producer should have caught this. Its a terrible "listen". I am caught up in the story so I must finish. PLUS I've paid for it!
Would you be willing to try another book from Dara Horn? Why or why not?
What didn’t you like about William Dufris’s performance?
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I was very disappointed because I was very much looking forward to this book, but the narration completely ruined it for me. I think the reader was attempting Russian accents, but it just sounded awful. He shouldn't have bothered.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
If you're interested in a depressing story about Russian Immigrants who lived thru horrifying events that's narrated with lousy accents; then this book is for you. The narrator has a very pleasant voice, however his Russian accents are horrible as well as his other accents for various characters. One sad depressing chapter after another. Sadly I could not finish.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful
Very obscure story that jumps around a lot. this made me lose interest quickly but had to finish what I started.
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
This is a wonderful story of several generations of a Russian Jewish family and the love that holds them together despite many trials and much suffering. The writing is beautiful and the characters leap off the page.
What did you like best about this story?
The final chapter of this book is one of the best I can recall reading. So clever and endearing -- a lovely way to bring everything together at the end of the book.
How could the performance have been better?
Yes -- the narration is the least appealing aspect of this book. The reader does not know how to do a Russian accent -- a very big problem for this story. The publisher should have found someone else to read this book.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I did cry in the end-- not out of sadness but joy.<br/>
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
The story was at times intriguing and promising, and I like Dara Horn. Go for the print version of this, though, and look to her other novels for better characters. I find the major romantic relationship that develops to be poorly and unbelievably written, but really enjoyed just about everything else and found myself wanting much more of the "flashback" moments of various perspectives.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
The narrator was so irritating in three ways that I had to force myself not to throw my listening device in frustration. First: he was utterly incapable of conveying a single female voice, to the degree that he seemed to be making fun of every single woman just for existing. No thanks. Better to just speak in a normal tone than to mock. Second: he was equally incapable of conveying any even vaguely Eastern European accent. His Yiddish and Russian accents were much more like a cross between Kermit the Frog and imitations of Northwest Native American "accents" (the characters in "Smoke Signals" come to mind). This is to say: they were utterly, ridiculously insulting. On that note, my third great irritation was the inability of this narrator to seek appropriate guidance to pronounce even the most well-known of names in the Russian-Jewish cultural world. Sholem Aleichem. Der Nister. It isn't hard. Any first-year Yiddish student could have helped him. Any one of thousands of Jewish grandparents could have advised him. Instead, it's like a little knife being twisted in your stomach hearing the wrenching mispronunciation of a name that really, really deserves better treatment.
Is there anything you would change about this book?
I simply didn't enjoy it very much.
What about William Dufris’s performance did you like?
His performance was very good
Was The World to Come worth the listening time?
I listened to it for my book club. I just found it would have been better suited as a short story