Dara Horn
A Guide for the Perplexed by Dara Horn

A Guide for the Perplexed

The incomparable Dara Horn returns with a spellbinding novel of how technology changes memory, and how memory shapes the soul.

Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented an application that records everything its users do. When an Egyptian library invites her to visit as a consultant, her jealous sister Judith persuades her to go. But in Egypt’s post-revolutionary chaos, Josie is abducted — leaving Judith free to take over Josie’s life at home, including her husband and daughter, while Josie’s talent for preserving memories becomes a surprising test of her empathy and her only means of escape.

A century earlier, another traveler arrives in Egypt: Solomon Schechter, a Cambridge professor hunting for a medieval archive hidden in a Cairo synagogue. Both he and Josie are haunted by the work of the medieval philosopher Moses Maimonides, a doctor and rationalist who sought to reconcile faith and science, destiny and free will. But what Schechter finds, as he tracks down the remnants of a thousand-year-old community’s once-vibrant life, will reveal the power and perils of what Josie’s ingenious work brings into being: a world where nothing is ever forgotten.

An engrossing adventure that intertwines stories from Genesis, medieval philosophy, and the digital frontier, A Guide for the Perplexed is a novel of profound inner meaning and astonishing imagination.

“Dara Horn’s best.… Horn frames a contest between predetermination and free will in which her characters are each humbled, a religious dialogue taking the form of this humane, erudite novel.”

The Boston Globe

“[An] intense, multilayered story… Horn’s writing comes from a place of deep knowledge…”

Jami Attenberg, New York Times Book Review

“[A Guide for the Perplexed] is just so beautiful and so mystical and so exciting… I really want to urge people to read Dara Horn.”

Bill Goldstein, NBC Today show

“Readers will be taken in by this literary thriller’s fast-paced plot and complicated but well-imaged characters. A sure bet.”

Library Journal

“[A]nother richly textured blend of history, psychology, religion, and human emotion … beneath all that beats the living heart of a very human drama, one that will have readers both caught up in the suspense and moved by the tragic dimensions of the unresolved dilemma at the core of the story.”

Booklist (starred review)

“Horn is embracing her own, livelier brand of Jewish history, embodied in the joys of discovering — and creating — the past anew.”

Tablet Magazine

“Wondrous…a richly layered novel…. Horn has magically summoned the wisdom of the ages to address a most contemporary dilemma…riveting and suspenseful…. A novelist at the height of her powers.”

Andrew Ferman , Miami Herald

“Riveting…This is extraordinary material, emotionally resonant and intellectually suggestive, and Horn’s portraits of the sisters are wonderfully ambiguous…[Horn] interweaves historical and contemporary tales to create intriguing echoes and layers of metaphor…Horn’s searing family drama easily encompasses whole worlds of political, philosophical and moral conflicts…Beautifully written and overwhelmingly sad.”

Wendy Smith, Washington Post

“Intricate and suspenseful, A Guide for the Perplexed is both learned and heartfelt, an exploration of human memory, its uses and misuses, that spans centuries in a twisty braid full of jaw dropping revelations and breathtaking reversals. An elegant and brainy page-turner from a master storyteller.”

Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Caleb’s Crossing

“A work marked by brilliant conceits and clever plotting.”

Kirkus Reviews

“It’s not every day you come across a genuinely page-turning kidnapping story that is also replete with historical, psychological, and interpretive insights into Maimonides, envy, and motherhood, not to mention replicating the narrative structure and central themes of the biblical story of Joseph. A Guide for the Perplexed is Dara Horn’s most ambitious, audacious, edifying, and entertaining novel yet.”

Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot and The Possessed

“Computer science and medieval philosophy mesh in Dara Horn’s accomplished novel about digital dangers and the nature of memory.”

Barbara Kiser, Nature

“A Guide for the Perplexed is a richly layered book that leaves a reader…grateful and impressed.”

Jewish Daily Forward