It’s the moment almost all of us have imagined, in fear or expectation — discovering that our family is not our own. Unmoored by a DNA test taken on a lark, Inheritance is Shapiro’s absorbing story of finding her biological father. Beautifully written, like all of her work, and bracingly honest. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
“A gripping genetic detective story, and a meditation on the meaning of parenthood and family.” — Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach
From the acclaimed, bestselling memoirist and novelist — “a writer of rare talent” (Cheryl Strayed) — a memoir about the staggering family secret uncovered by a genealogy test: an exploration of the urgent ethical questions surrounding fertility treatments and DNA testing, and a profound inquiry of paternity, identity, and love.
What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?
In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history — the life she had lived — crumbled beneath her.
Inheritance is a book about secrets — secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than 50 years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in — a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.
“Page after page, Shapiro displays a disarming honesty and an acute desire to know the unknowable.” Booklist (Starred Review)
“For all the trauma that the discovery put her through, Shapiro recognizes that what she had experienced was ‘a great story’ — one that has inspired her best book.” Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“Fascinating....With thoughtful candor, [Shapiro] explores the ethical questions surrounding sperm donation, the consequences of DNA testing, and the emotional impact of having an uprooted religious and ethnic identity. This beautifully written, thought-provoking genealogical mystery will captivate readers from the very first pages.” Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
About the Author
Dani Shapiro is the author of the memoirs Hourglass, Still Writing, Devotion, and Slow Motion and five novels including Black and White and Family History. Also an essayist and a journalist, Shapiro’s short fiction, essays, and journalistic pieces have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, One Story, Elle, Vogue, O, The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, the op-ed pages of The New York Times, and many other publications. She has taught in the writing programs at Columbia, NYU, the New School, and Wesleyan University; she is cofounder of the Sirenland Writers Conference in Positano, Italy. She lives with her family in Litchfield County, Connecticut.
Dani Shapiro on PowellsBooks.Blog
In the spring of 2016, I stumbled entirely by accident on a massive family secret. My father — whom I adored, and who died when I was young — hadn’t been my biological father. I made this discovery because I had my DNA tested through a commercial testing site. There was no reason for me to do this...