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Publisher Description

"[An] intense, multilayered story." —Jami Attenberg, New York Times Book Review

Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented an application that records everything its users do. When she visits the Library of Alexandria as a tech consultant, she is abducted in Egypt’s postrevolutionary chaos with only a copy of the philosopher Maimonides’ famous work to anchor her—leaving her jealous sister Judith free to take over her life. A century earlier, Cambridge professor Solomon Schechter arrives in Egypt, hunting for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue. Their stories intertwine in this spellbinding novel of how technology changes memory and how memory shapes the soul.

Fiction & Literature
September 9
W. W. Norton & Company
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Customer Reviews

i.nurture ,

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

Parts of this book taking place in Egypt were difficult for me to read, as danger makes me uncomfortable. Those circumstances are integral to the story, however, and involve themes of sibling rivalry, jealousy, & taking “control” for power over one’s life, as well as how different people and societies process, store, and retrieve memories.
I enjoyed the parallel stories from different time periods and how these stories were interwoven. I found the ending to be poignant and sad, as it appears the lessons of a traumatic experience by a main female character were put aside.
I found the complex relationships of the various pairs of siblings interesting to compare, especially how their religious views impacted not only their experiences—but also their interpretation of them.
As someone who had saved a lot of of material evidence of my life and that of my family through documents, creative endeavors, photos, and videos, I have personally experienced the challenges trying to bring order and organization to an unruly and large “mess” of miscellaneous “stuff.” I was therefore fascinated by the “genizah” as an archeological source. If history is told through the words of the victors, the genizahs of the world tell a fuller story of lives: omitted, incompletely portrayed, or inaccurately revealed by traditional historical records.
This book has me analyzing my personal history (including relationships) and how the world not only influenced my circumstances and life experiences—but my memories of them, as well!

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