Dani Shapiro is a bestselling novelist and memoirist and host of the podcast Family Secrets (now in its sixth season). Her work has been featured in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Vogue, and Time. She has taught at Columbia and New York University and is the co-founder of the Sirenland Writers Conference. Her new novel, Signal Fires, will be published by Knopf in October.
From the best-selling author of Inheritance, a gripping new novel about two families bound together across generations by an unspeakable tragedy. Change one thing and everything changes. One summer night in 1985, the lives of three teenagers are shattered by a horrific car crash, resulting in the death of a young woman near a sprawling oak tree that marks the perimeter of 18 Division Street. For the Wilf family, it will become the deepest kind of family secret, one so dangerous it can never be spoken. By the time the Shenkmans move in across the street—a young couple expecting a baby boy—the accident has become a distant memory. But when Waldo Shenkman, a brilliant but lonely child, befriends Ben Wilf, a retired doctor who is struggling with his wife’s decline, the Wilfs’ and the Shenkmans’ lives and fates become deeply entwined, and the past comes hurtling back to Division Street, setting in motion a chain of spellbinding events that will transform both families forever. Riveting, emotional, impossible to put down, a literary and commercial tour de force, and a work of haunting beauty and complexity by a masterly storyteller at the height of her powers.
What makes us who we are? What combination of memory, history, biology, experience, and that ineffable thing called the soul defines us?
In the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history–the life she had lived–crumbled beneath her.
Inheritance is a book about secrets–secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in–a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.