A million-dollar painting by Marc Chagall is stolen from a museum during a singles’ cocktail hour. The unlikely thief is Benjamin Ziskind, a lonely former child prodigy who writes questions for quiz shows and who is sure the painting used to hang on a wall of his parents’ living room. As Ben tries to evade the police, he and his twin sister, Sara, seek out the truth of how the painting got to the museum, whether the “original” is actually a forgery, and whether Sara, an artist, can create a convincing forgery to take its place.
Eighty years prior, in the 1920’s in Soviet Russia, Marc Chagall taught art to orphaned Jewish boys. There Chagall befriended the great Yiddish novelist known by the pseudonym “Der Nister,” The Hidden One. And there, with the lives of these real artists, the story of the painting begins, carrying with it not only a hidden fable by the Hidden One but also the story of the Ziskind family — from Russia to New Jersey and Vietnam.
Prize-winning author Dara Horn interweaves mystery, romance, folklore, theology, history, and scripture into a spellbinding modern tale. She brings us on a breathtaking collision course of past, present, and future — revealing both the ordinariness and the beauty of “the world to come.” Nestling stories within stories, this is a novel of remarkable clarity and deep inner meaning.
Entertainment Weekly Editor’s Choice * New York Times Editor’s Choice * A Book-of-the Month Club Smart Readers Selection * A Book Sense Top 20 Pick * Winner of the 2006 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction