Chloe Benjamin brings us an emotional novel about a universal question--What if you could find out the date of your death? Would you want to know? Would it change the way you live your life? When Daniel Gold hears the rumor that there's a fortune teller nearby, he convinces his sisters, Varya and Klara to go and find out what their future holds with little brother Simon tagging along. However, this is no ordinary fortune teller, this fortune teller will give you the date of your death. For the Gold children, the answers become complex and yet very simple as they figure out how to live their life with a date that looms over as a blessing or perhaps a burden depending on your views. The Immortalists is a phenomenal story that will draw you into each siblings life and leave you hungry for more.— Jen Steele
On the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the late 1960s, four children meet a fortune teller, who tells them when each of them is going to die. Do I really need to say any more? The four sections of The Immortalists are told by a different sibling, and the story rockets across the country, veering into emergent gay culture, the world of magicians, a military processing station, and an aging research lab. Simon, Klara, Daniel, and Varya each must confront a life where free will and destiny collide. Don’t worry, you won’t get whiplash from the twists the story takes, but you will likely fall in love with the Gold family and Chloe Benjamin’s novel, a whip-smart and unexpectedly philosophical story of fate, faith, and family.— Daniel Goldin
This will be an excellent book club book. The narrative is a study in the differences of philosophies: Simon's fatalistic/nihilistic determination; Klara's Determinism; Varya's belief that diligent, perhaps obsessive, organization of life will keep the gypsy woman's prophecy from touching her life - keeping herself hidden in seeming safety, sequestered in science; and Daniel's denial, outfitted with 'blinkers', about his accountability to the role he plays in sending young people into harm's way. We may ask ourselves, and others, whether or not it is the moment by moment decisions we make that comprise the stepping stones toward death.
There is much to discuss in the way of human history, and what it is that causes a human being to view the inevitability of death as a journey, filled with opportunities to exercise free will; or a trek ending at a specific destination in time and space.— Scott Espinoza
THE IMMORTALISTS slowly ripped pieces of my heart away leaving me as wrung out as I’ve ever been after finishing a novel. So OF COURSE you all have to read it for the emotions Chloe Benjamin conjures up, the brilliant narrative structure, the writing so beautiful you will literally read some sentences twice, and the moments that will make you gasp out loud in surprise. What’s it about? Four siblings visit a fortune teller and each learns the exact day he or she will die. This information haunts them over the course of their lives, particularly after the death of the youngest, Simon. His death struck me the hardest because I could see it coming, knew how it would end for him, and I read on, helpless. The story come to a satisfying conclusion when the oldest, Varya, examines what it means not to simply exist, but to LIVE!— Jenny Chou
January 2018 Indie Next List
“In 1969, four siblings visit a fortune teller, who tells each child the date of their death. We follow the Gold siblings both separately and together over the next four decades and see how these revelations affect their choices, their behavior, and their relationships with one another. Apart from raising the obvious question (would you want to know the date of your death?), Benjamin brilliantly explores how family members can be both close to and distant from one another, and ponders the point at which our actions cease to matter and fate steps in. I LOVED The Immortalists, and if there's any justice in bookselling, this book will find the massive audience it so deserves.”
— Erika VanDam, RoscoeBooks, Chicago, IL
Summer 2019 Reading Group Indie Next List
“How would you live your life if you knew what day you’d die? This compelling novel explores this question through the interweaving lives of four siblings who, as children, are told their death dates by a fortune-teller. The Immortalists is at once a page-turning, character-driven narrative and a fascinating rumination on fate versus free will.”
— Jessamyn Duckwall, Waucoma Bookstore, Hood River, OR
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. 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.
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.