BKMT READING GUIDES

No.
39


 
Interesting,
Insightful,
Dramatic

10 reviews

The Immortalists
by Chloe Benjamin

Published: 2018-01-09
Hardcover : 352 pages
97 members reading this now
199 clubs reading this now
12 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 9 of 10 members
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: 
Washington Post, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, 
Real Simple, Marie Claire, New York Public Library, LibraryReads, The Skimm, Lit Hub, Lit Reactor 

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A captivating family saga.”—The New York Times Book Review

“This ...
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Introduction

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: 
Washington Post, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, 
Real Simple, Marie Claire, New York Public Library, LibraryReads, The Skimm, Lit Hub, Lit Reactor 

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“A captivating family saga.”—The New York Times Book Review

“This literary family saga is perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Donna Tartt.”—People Magazine (Book of the Week)

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.

Editorial Review

An Amazon Best Book of January 2018: The Immortalists doesn’t seem like a second novel: it has all the unexpected brilliance of a debut hit, combined with the assured style and long-sighted wisdom you’d expect from an older, more experienced writer. But author Chloe Benjamin is – astonishingly -- only 28 years old, and her ambitious and deeply moving novel sets a high standard for realistic fiction in 2018 – and it’s only January. Benjamin tells the story of four teenage siblings who, on a lark, ask a fortuneteller to reveal the dates of their deaths. Whether that fortuneteller is a con artist or is genuinely gifted with second sight doesn’t interest Benjamin so much as how one piece of possibly spurious information conspires with character and circumstance to warp the siblings’ choices as they grow into adulthood. Along the way, Benjamin poses intriguing questions about the value of longevity and whether we are victims, or perpetrators, of our own fates. Though Benjamin is wary of magical thinking, her omniscient writing casts a masterful spell that will leave you eager to see what her third novel will bring. --Sarah Harrison Smith, Amazon Book Review

Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. THE IMMORTALISTS explores the degree to which we shape our own destinies. Do you believe that the siblings’ fate was preordained? Why or why not?

2. The novel takes place in very different settings --- 1960s New York City, the San Francisco dance scene, glitzy Las Vegas hotels. In what ways do these locations affect the characters? Why do you think all four of the siblings moved away from New York City?

3. THE IMMORTALISTS is narrated by the four siblings in separate sections. What was your reading experience when you switched sections? Did you identify more closely with certain siblings?

4. The power of belief --- whether it be magic, religious faith or storytelling --- is an important theme in the novel. How does belief affect each of the siblings? What is different or similar about the stories they tell themselves?

5. At its heart, THE IMMORTALISTS is a family love story, exploring both past and future generations of the Gold family. In what ways does family history shape us? What kind of legacies do the four siblings leave behind?

6. How do magic and reality blur in the novel? Were there any particular moments that seemed to defy logic? Why are certain characters drawn to magic and the unknowable more than others?

7. Discuss the siblings’ significant others: Raj, Mira and Robert. How are their lives affected by the prophecy? How do romantic and familial relationships interact and contrast in THE IMMORTALISTS?

8. At the end of the novel, Gertie tells Varya about the beauty and freedom in uncertainty, questioning why her children believed the fortune teller. Did you believe the fortune teller? What gives the fortune teller her power? What freedoms does uncertainty bring?

9. What do you imagine happens to Varya after the book ’s ending? How have her views on longevity and death changed?

10. Would you want to find out the date of your death? How would you live your life differently if you had this information?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

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Member Reviews

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by Bookworm4 (see profile) 12/07/19

 
by halina (see profile) 12/05/19

 
by mpaniaguatej (see profile) 11/26/19

 
by Julesmc (see profile) 09/25/19

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