The Elixir Of Immortality by Gabi Gleichmann


There’s a trapdoor in the sun

Where does the secret to true immortality lie?  Could it be in our ability to affect change upon the world and leave our indelible mark in the annals of history?  Can it be linked to love and hate, profound emotions that drive us to commit incredible acts on their behalf?  Is it rooted in the religious promise of an afterlife in exchange for a strict adherence to God’s teachings?  Does it involve passing down the great legends of our family lore to successive generations so that we are never forgotten?

Any person can make a mistake and fall into evildoing.  That is why it is essential always to preserve our memories.  By recalling the past, we can avoid repeating our bad deeds.  –Moishe Spinoza

For almost 1,000 years one family has been tasked with holding the answer to this great mystery, but now their time on this planet is coming to an end.  The last of his influential bloodline, Ari Spinoza desperately wants to document his family’s place in history before he succumbs to the ravages of the cancer that is slowly destroying his cells.  Armed with only an imperfect memory of the childhood stories relayed to him by his fantastical uncle Fernando and a chest full of ancient documents that has been passed down through the ages to the eldest son of each generation, Ari sets out tell the true story of his family, or at least his version of it.

My boys, Fernando entertains you with a thousand and one tales, each more outlandish than the last.  When it comes to storytelling it doesn’t matter if something actually happened or not; it’s the way the story is told. – Nathan Spinoza

Told in a highly engaging, evocative manner, author Gabi Gleichmann’s stunning debut novel blends one thousand years of European history together with wildly inventive flourishes of magical realism to create an inspirational, transcendent epic that speaks directly to the important role that storytelling plays in each of our lives.  Throughout the pages of The Elixir of Immortality Gleichmann discretely probes at the foundations of hot button topics like organized religion in a concerted effort to engage readers in an ongoing dialog designed to cut through the extraneous noise and focus on the most important elements that lie at the heart of spirituality.

God cannot be seen, experienced, or defined.  God is present in everything but remains eternally silent and unapproachable.  He has left traces in his creation for us to study and pursue.  –Benjamin Spinoza

Gleichmann’s ambitious efforts are rewarded by his insistence to tackle stereotypes and oppression head on rather than shy away from them.  From the Spanish Inquisition to the Holocaust, he leaves no stone in history’s dark past unturned as he reminds us that no matter how horrific the obstacle, life always manages to find a way to persevere.  In the case of the Spinoza family one of the hard costs of continuing on requires a compromise of identity and a series of unique character traits plague each successive generation as a direct result.

The most important thing is not having correct and truthful views but rather daring to think for oneself, to challenge ancient tenets of faith, and to stand up for one’s convictions. – Uriel Spinoza

Regardless of age, race, color, or gender.  No matter political leanings or religious affiliations.  The Elixir of Immortality is a novel that seeks to remind us to embrace the power of our commonalities instead of wasting time bickering about our supposed differences.  It’s a thoughtful warning to never forget the mistakes of the past, but it’s also a hopeful, inspiring message about the power and unlimited potential of the never ending future spread out before us all for the taking.

You are the almighty’s finest creation, the measure of everything: You are a human being.  If all Jews and Muslims, and Christians were that, if they had a human outlook toward life and moral views, then you would have no need to fear the morrow.  Keep that always in mind and always be a human being, with everything that status signifies.  – Mordechai

It’s also a celebration of the past, present, and future of life.  Everyone’s invited.  Don’t be late to the party.

The_Elixir_Of_Immortality ★★★★★
The Elixir of Immortality
By Gabi Gleichmann
Translated from the Swedish by Michael Meigs
Other Press
(2012) 2013
768 Pages
ISBN 9781590515907

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.

  • Imker

    I liked it too, though must note It’s translated from Swedish, not Norwegian.

    • Typographical Era

      Interesting…thanks for pointing that out. It was originally published in Norwegian. I didn’t realize that the translation from English was actually from the Swedish edition as it isn’t clearly spelled out.