What if you knew the day of your death? Would it change your life? Wouldn't it change your life? The four Gold siblings visit a fortune teller as young children to learn the dates of their deaths, and it changes everything. The loss of innocent bliss — the unknowing — is gone, and Benjamin does a wonderful job of revealing how that informs their lives. At 28, Benjamin's writing is somehow deeply poignant and heartbreaking; it is heavy with maturity and the burdens of life, but her storytelling is breezy — a fascinating and satisfying mix that renders this book a must read. Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
One by one, four siblings enter a strange woman’s apartment and learn when they will die. The premise for Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists is a curious one, and the way that prophetic encounter shapes each of the siblings’ lives makes for a captivating read — one that wrestles with big unwieldy unknowns like fate, mortality, and magic, without ever losing sight of the charming and flawed family around which it revolves. I loved it. Recommended By Tove H., Powells.com
The lives of four wildly different siblings are threaded into the major events and ideological crises of the latter half of the 20th century in Chloe Benjamin's engaging second novel. Delving into topics as disparate as magic, the 1980s gay scene in San Francisco, longevity research, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Immortalists spreads itself a little too thin, but is consistently entertaining, absorbing, and illuminating. Recommended By Rhianna W., Powells.com
New York, 1969: Four siblings visit a psychic and learn the day they will die. They keep the dates secret from each other, but the psychic's prophecy affects each of them in very different ways. Brimming with insight and love, The Immortalists is sure to mesmerize. Recommended By Mary Jo S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A dazzling family love story reminiscent of Everything I Never Told You from a novelist heralded by Lorrie Moore as a "great new talent."
If you knew the date of your death, how would you live your life?
It's 1969 in New York City's Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children — four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness — sneak out to hear their fortunes.
The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in '80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.
A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.
“A debut novel of subtlety, depth, intrigue, and tenderness. Chloe Benjamin is a great new talent.” Lorrie Moore
“For someone who loves stories about brothers and sisters, as I do, The Immortalists is about as good as it gets. A memorable and heartfelt look at what might happen to a family who knows too much. It's amazing how good this book is.” Karen Joy Fowler
“Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists is the very best kind of literary thriller, its suspense deriving from characters we care about deeply and surprises that feel embedded in our shared humanity. As profound a meditation on destiny as readers are likely to encounter.” Richard Russo
“2018's First Must-Read.” Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Chloe Benjamin is the author of the novel The Anatomy of Dreams, which received the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award and was longlisted for the 2014 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. A San Francisco native, Benjamin is a graduate of Vassar College and of the University of Wisconsin, where she received her MFA in fiction. She lives with her husband in Madison, Wisconsin.
Chloe Benjamin on PowellsBooks.Blog
When people ask how I came up with the concept for my second novel, The Immortalists
— four siblings visit a fortune teller who is rumored to be able to tell anyone the date that they will die — I always wish I had a better answer. The truth is that it simmered for years, condensing slowly; it’s hard to pinpoint the moment when the idea was first sparked...