A New York Times Bestseller
‘Profound… Shapiro’s account is beautifully written and deeply moving – it brought me to tears more than once.’ -- New York Times
‘All my life I had known there was a secret. What I hadn’t known: the secret was me.’
In the spring of 2016 Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. Months earlier, on a whim, she had submitted her DNA to a genealogy website for analysis. The results were astonishing, and revealed that everything she had believed about her life had been a lie.
Shapiro’s parents were no longer alive. With no one to turn to, and only a handful of figures on a webpage, Shapiro set out to discover the truth about herself and her identity.
Inheritance is a genetic detective story; a memoir that reads like a thriller. It is a book about family secrets kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in, where science and technology have outpaced both medical ethics and the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.
‘Reads like a beautiful, lived novel, moving and personal and true.’-- Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion
‘A fantastic writer.’ -- Dolly Alderton
‘A meditation on what it means to live in a time when secrecy, anonymity and mystery are vanishing. [Inheritance] encapsulates an ethical quandary with which our society has yet to fully grapple.’ -- The New Yorker
‘Shapiro writes with poetic precision in prose that sometimes sings. And she knows how to tell a story... Fascinating.’ -- Sunday Times
‘Those who like to insist that blood is always thicker than water should read Inheritance, and let their own hearts slowly and gently expand.’ -- Rachel Cooke, Observer
'An intensely personal story, and a beautifully written enquiry into belonging and self. So warm and deft. I envy those yet to read it.' -- Nigella Lawson
‘A compulsively-readable investigation into selfhood that burrows to the heart of what it means to accept, to love and to belong.’ -- Anthony Doerr, author of All the Light We Cannot See
‘A writer of rare talent.’ -- Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
In this fascinating memoir, Shapiro (Hourglass) writes of how she questioned her identity when a DNA test revealed that she was not, as she believed she was, 100% Jewish. Shapiro grew up in an Orthodox family in suburban New Jersey; blonde-haired and blue-eyed, she often felt out of place in a family of dark-haired Ashkenazi Jews, yet she had shrugged off the physical differences. But when she got the DNA test results, the then-54-year-old began researching her family history, and within months she unraveled a narrative leading back to the 1960s and the early days of artificial insemination. Her own parents had died, but now, with the support of her husband and son, she discovered her biological father, a doctor from Portland. Shapiro realized that her childhood, her ancestral lineage, and the foundation of her world were based on deception. "What potent combination of lawlessness, secrecy, desire, shame, greed, and confusion had led to my conception?" Shapiro writes. With thoughtful candor, she 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.