Chloe Benjamin is a novelist to watch


The Immortalists. By Chloe Benjamin. Putnam; 346 pages; $26. Tinder Press; £16.99.

SOME novels are portraits, some are page-turning puzzles. Still others are meditations on the mysteries of life. “The Immortalists”, a family story with a twist, is a bit of all of those. The tale of four siblings marked in childhood by a terrible prophecy, it careers through time and tragedy with the reader in tow, as deft and dizzying as a high-wire act.

Chloe Benjamin, an American writer, sets out a startling premise: what if you were told the date of your own death? Varya, Daniel, Klara and Simon Gold, four siblings in a Jewish immigrant family, visit a fortune-teller in 1969 on the Lower East Side of New York. From the moment each is told when his or her life will end, they are irrevocably altered. Suspense mounts as the reader learns each character’s fate in individual portraits, starting with the youngest. What links them beyond the irrational power…Continue reading

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Redeeming Mary Magdalene

EVERY generation of artists has brought its own sensibilities and experiences to the depiction of canonical Christian stories. Giotto, an Italian painter, set Bible scenes in medieval Tuscany. Rembrandt gave his a hint of mercantile 17th-century Amsterdam. “Mary Magdalene” is similarly a retelling of some of the faith’s main events …

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