“It didn’t seem the work of a
fledgling novelist finding her
voice. She was very much in
control of the effects of fiction. She has the ability to
weave well-researched history into a fictional story that is
both emotionally moving and
In the Image won a National Jewish Book Award,
an Edward Lewis Wallant
Award and the Reform Judaism Fiction Prize. It linked
the story of a young Jewish
woman growing up in suburban New Jersey with that of
her best friend’s grandfather,
an Austrian Jew who had
fled the Nazis. When the best
friend dies, the young woman
stops speaking and, for a time,
lives through images, including those the grandfather has
made of Jewish sites around
In part a reimagining of
the Book of Job, In the Image,
Horn has said, suggests that
people’s lives are shaped less
by matters beyond their control than by their own choices.
Horn’s next novel, The World
to Come (2006), won another
National Jewish Book Award.
That novel and All Other Nights
(2009) earned her comparisons
to Philip Roth, Isaac Bashevis
beating College Bowl-type competition about Israeli history. When she returned,
she wrote an essay for Hadassah magazine about visiting the sites of Nazi concen-
tration camps. Her story was named a finalist for a prestigious National Magazine Award.
At the prize luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria in 1993, she recalls, “I was the only one there
with braces.” She didn’t win, but two judges took her aside and confided, “You know, you beat
Norman Mailer,” whose essay apparently did not make the finals.
Horn, 36, has always been an uncommonly precocious writer. Growing up in Short Hills, she
and her three siblings wrote and performed satirical plays for the family’s Passover seders (Oscar
Night at the Exodus). During her junior year at Harvard, she wrote
an article for American Heritage on Civil War Boston that prompted
a call from an editor proposing she expand it into a book. Horn demurred; she still had papers and exams to complete.
After graduating summa cum laude with a degree in comparative
literature in 1999, Horn left Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a fellow-
ship at Cambridge University, England, and a master’s in Hebrew lit-
erature. Long fluent in the language, she found the program “not very
taxing,” she admits. “I was so lonely, so bored. Suddenly, I just had all
this time on my hands. I had never had that, my whole life.”
Others might have embarked on a protracted pub crawl, but Horn
decided to try her hand at fiction. Her maiden effort was a novel, In
the Image, which W. W. Norton published in 2002, when Horn was 25.
“It turned out to be remarkable,” says Gary Morris, Horn’s agent.
A Jewish scholar and Harvard PhD., novelist
Dara Horn is also a happy suburban mom.
BY JULIA M. KLEIN
HORN OF PLENTY
LOOK WHO’S HERE: Dara Horn’s son
Ronen, 1, toddles into the living room,
where the award-winning novelist
writes. Below, from left, at the kitchen
table, Ari, 6; Horn; Eli, 4; Maya, 8; husband Brendan Schulman; and Ronen.