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.
‘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.’ – The Observer
‘Moving and emotionally raw, Shapiro’s memoir opens out from a painful reassessment of her life to grapple with the ethics of reproductive medicine in the 1960s.’ – Scottish Herald
‘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 (via Twitter)
'Engaging and thought-provoking ... the worlds of nature and nurture collide in this gripping and deeply personal account.' – Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine
‘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 gripping genetic detective story, and a meditation on the meaning of parenthood and family.’ – Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach
‘A writer of rare talent.’ – Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
‘Beautiful … A fantastic writer.’ – Dolly Alderton, The High Low podcast
‘Reads like a beautiful, lived novel, moving and personal and true.’ – Meg Wolitzer, author of The Female Persuasion
‘Searing... How do we live with ourselves after finding we are not who we thought we were? The answer is not disquieting. It is beautiful.’ – André Aciman, author of Call Me by Your Name
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.