At the Heart of the Universe: A Novel

At the Heart of the Universe: A Novel

by Samuel Shem


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The story of two mothers and a father in love with the same daughter, Samuel Shem's At the Heart of the Universe is an epic novel set deep in rural China against the backdrop of an ancient mountain monastery during the time of the one-child-per-family policy. Inspired by the author's experiences as parent of an adopted child, it describes the drama of adoption and the journey of loss and rebirth that can happen when a daughter brings together her adopted mother and father with her birth mother high on a mountaintop.

Set in 1991 in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, as a Chinese woman abandons her one-month-old daughter in a pile of celery in a busy market, and then shifting to Changsha ten years later as the daughter returns with her adopted American parents, the story moves across southern China until, high atop Emei San, one of China's "sacred mountains" with a Buddhist temple, the four are brought together in the wilderness—a perilous and explosive time that unleashes their heartbreak and suffering and, remarkably, transcends it to shared compassion, and new beginnings.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609806415
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Publication date: 05/02/2016
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Bestselling novelist SAMUEL SHEM is known as the author of the three million copy–selling modern classic, The House of God, which with dazzling humor describes the horrors and banalities of working in hospitals—and is required reading for medical students and doctors. A Rhodes Scholar and Harvard Medical School faculty member for over three decades, Shem is currently Professor of Medicine in Medical Humanities at NYU Medical School. He has given over sixty medical school commencement addresses on "Staying Human in Medicine." His other books include The Spirit of the Place, named USA Book News Best Novel of the Year and Independent Publishers Best Novel of the Year in 2009. His award-winning play Bill W. and Dr. Bob, co-written with his wife Janet Surrey, about the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, ran for ten months Off-Broadway in 2013. Surrey and Shem are co-authors of the 2015 book The Buddha's Wife: The Path of Awakening Together. He lives in Boston and Costa Rica, together with Janet and their daughter Katie.

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