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A Guide for the Perplexed
Cover of A Guide for the Perplexed
A Guide for the Perplexed
A Novel
by Dara Horn
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"[An] intense, multilayered story." —Jami Attenberg, New York Times Book Review

Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented an application that records everything its users do. When she visits the Library of Alexandria as a tech consultant, she is abducted in Egypt's postrevolutionary chaos with only a copy of the philosopher Maimonides' famous work to anchor her—leaving her jealous sister Judith free to take over her life. A century earlier, Cambridge professor Solomon Schechter arrives in Egypt, hunting for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue. Their stories intertwine in this spellbinding novel of how technology changes memory and how memory shapes the soul.

"[An] intense, multilayered story." —Jami Attenberg, New York Times Book Review

Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented an application that records everything its users do. When she visits the Library of Alexandria as a tech consultant, she is abducted in Egypt's postrevolutionary chaos with only a copy of the philosopher Maimonides' famous work to anchor her—leaving her jealous sister Judith free to take over her life. A century earlier, Cambridge professor Solomon Schechter arrives in Egypt, hunting for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue. Their stories intertwine in this spellbinding novel of how technology changes memory and how memory shapes the soul.

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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.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 17, 2013
    The latest novel from Horn (All Other Nights) is actually several books in one. One strand, a historical narrative set in 1896, depicts Cambridge professor Solomon Schechter’s discovery of the Cairo Genizah, a repository of thousands of documents in an old Egyptian synagogue; while another, set in 1171, recounts how the medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides wrote The Guide for the Perplexed, a book attempting to reconcile divine providence and free will, after the drowning death of his brother David. Lastly, the novel explores sibling rivalry, taking the biblical tale of Joseph and his brothers as a foundational case study. Josephine “Josie” Ashkenazi—the inventor of Genizah, a software program that comprehensively archives moments from its users’ lives—is encouraged by her envious sister Judith to accept a consultant position at the Library of Alexandria. Soon after Josie arrives in post–Arab Spring Egypt, however, she is kidnapped. When a video appears online of Josie being hanged, Judith moves in with her sister’s family, sleeping with her brother-in-law and caring for her six-year-old niece. If this sounds melodramatic, that’s because it is. Worse yet, there is something profoundly unlikable about all the characters involved. Still, Horn raises intriguing questions—including some of the eternal variety and others very much of this moment. Agent: Gary Morris, David Black Agency.

  • Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them It's not every day you come across a genuinely page-turning kidnapping story that is also replete with historical, psychological, and interpretive insights into Maimonides, envy, and motherhood, not to mention replicating the narrative structure and central themes of the biblical story of Joseph. A Guide for the Perplexed is Dara Horn's most ambitious, audacious, edifying, and entertaining novel yet.
  • Bill Goldstein;NBC's Weekend Today Show [A Guide for the Perplexed] is so beautiful, so mystical, so exciting... I really urge you to read Dara Horn.
  • Entertainment Weekly Horn moves seamlessly back and forth in time.
  • Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Caleb's Crossing Intricate and suspenseful, A Guide for the Perplexed is both learned and heartfelt, an exploration of human memory, its uses and misuses, that spans centuries in a twisty braid full of jaw dropping revelations and breathtaking reversals. An elegant and brainy page-turner from a master storyteller.
  • Kirkus Reviews A work marked by brilliant conceits and clever plotting.
  • Booklist, Starred Review [Within A Guide for the Perplexed] 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.
  • Tablet Magazine Horn is embracing her own, livelier brand of Jewish history, embodied in the joys of discovering-and creating-the past anew.
  • Andrew Ferman;Miami Herald Wondrous...a richly layered novel.... Horn has magically summoned the wisdom of the ages to address a most contemporary dilemma...riveting and suspenseful.... A novelist at the height of her powers.
  • Jewish Daily Forward A Guide for the Perplexed is a richly layered book that leaves a reader...grateful and impressed.
  • Library Journal Readers will be taken in by this literary thriller's fast-paced plot and complicated but well-imaged characters. A sure bet.
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    W. W. Norton & Company
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  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

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A Novel
Dara Horn
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