On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Would you want to know the exact date of your death?

Share story

'The Immortalists' by Chloe Benjamin
'The Immortalists' by Chloe Benjamin
Courtesy of publisher

Every week, The Thread checks in with booksellers around the country about their favorite books of the moment. This week, we spoke with Val Stadick, the owner of Main Street Books in Minot, N.D.

Imagine you hear about a psychic — a psychic famous for predicting the exact date of one's death.

Would you go? Would you want to know?

That tantalizing but unsettling premise is at the heart of Chloe Benjamin's "The Immortalists."

The novel follows the four Gold siblings, who come of age in 1960s New York City. They take a group outing to a traveling psychic one afternoon to hear their fortunes. She delivers — but in uncomfortable detail, down to the date of their deaths.

"This is a book our whole staff was very excited to see come in the store, because the premise really intrigued us," Val Stadick said.

"The Immortalists" explores the burden of knowing, and how that knowledge shapes every decision the siblings make as they grow up. The two youngest Golds leave for San Francisco, to become a magician and a dancer.

"Benjamin really captures the city in the 70s. She also touched a lot upon the very difficult aspects of that time, which included the spread of AIDS," Stadick said.

Meanwhile, the oldest siblings become a doctor and a scientist, studying longevity and tracking down clues about the psychic herself. 

The book "raises a lot of questions about the choices we make in life and about fate," Stadick said. "She creates characters that stick with you for a long time after the book is finished — but I really like that she doesn't hand you the answers."

The Immortalists The Immortalists