Published MAY 2013 · ORDER NOW

by Joanna Hershon

Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1963: two students meet one autumn evening during their senior year at Harvard–Ed, a Jewish kid on scholarship, and Hugh, a Boston Brahmin with the world at his feet. Ed is unapologetically ambitious and girl-crazy, while Hugh is ambivalent about everything aside from his dedicated pining for the one girl he’s ever loved.  An immediate, intense friendship is sparked that night, which ends just as abruptly, several years later, although only one of them understands why.

A Dual Inheritance is the most accomplished novel of Hershon’s career; Delving deep into the lives of two generations, against backdrops as diverse as Dar es Salaam, Boston, Shenzhen and Fishers Island, this keenly perceptive novel about passion, betrayal, class and friendship will leave readers entranced, and questioning these characters’ lives and choices long after the last page is turned.


“Hershon writes with great confidence and clarity. You feel secure in her every chiselled sentence as the novel moves forward through the years and across continents, to Tanzania, Haiti and New York. Great stuff.”
UK Daily Mail

“‘A Dual Inheritance’ is an old-fashioned social novel that feels fresh because of its deft, clear- eyed approach to still-unspoken rules about ethnicity, money and identity.”
—Alix Ohlin for the San Francisco Chronicle

“A Dual Inheritance is that most pleasing of literary beasts: a novel of ideas wrapped up in a big, sudsy intergenerational saga of screwed-up families and soul-destroying love triangles.”
— Michael Bourne for The Millions

“Joanna Hershon’s ‘A Dual Inheritance,’ offers everything one might expect — and want — in a family saga, late-20th-century Harvard-style.”
The Boston Globe

“The title of Joanna Hershon’s absorbing new novel, A Dual Inheritance, announces its fascination with binary oppositions that are at the same time complementary pairs….Hershon has several tricks up her sleeve.”
—Adam Kirsch for Tablet

“The best book about male friendship written this young century.”

“[An] engrossing saga.”

“Hershon artfully guides us through the lives of Ed and Hugh, college buddies who meet at Harvard in the ’60s, shifting between their perspectives through adulthood to detail their lingering impact on one another’s lives in such a way that it’ll make you take a second look at all of your relationships.”

“Let this story of two Harvard men’s unexpected friendship and its sudden end transport you through time (beginning on Harvard’s campus in 1962) and place.”
The Huffington Post

“Hershon seldom wastes words in a story that careers through multiple generations of the two men’s families in 472 pages.”
The Daily Beast

“A Dual Inheritance” explains character in relation to the changing identity and complexion of American society, deftly moving from the 1960s to the present day.”
The Roanoke Times

“This thought-provoking generational tale is a heartfelt and beautiful story of an unlikely friendship that fades at times, but never seems to go away.”
Long Island Press

“A richly composed . . . portrait of familial gravity and the wobbly orbits that bring us together again and again.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“Sharply observed and masterfully constructed, Hershon’s fourth novel is her strongest yet, a deft and assured examination of ambition, envy, longing, and kinship.”
–Booklist (starred review)

“Hershon deftly explores how individuals often sabotage their chances for happiness. The characters in this novel are fully realized, the story moves along at a fast pace, and the author is well-informed about her subject. Highly recommended.”
–Library Journal (starred review)

“Joanna Hershon is further evidence of a pleasing trend set off by Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot: big books about American politics, social customs, and family dynamics that seek to update and relocate the brilliantly compelling English 19th century novel. I envy and admire Hershon’s ability to so convincingly display the complex intimacies of multi-generational love and friendship. This is a book to lose yourself in.”
–Antonya Nelson, author of Bound

“Joanna Hershon works miracles in A Dual Inheritance. Simultaneously a riveting story of two very different families, and a portrait of the United States through the boom and bust decades. Think of Anne Tyler and Tom Wolfe, both. This marvelous novel is a mix of heartache and history. I just couldn’t stop reading and when it was over I felt sad the experience had ended.”
-Victor LaValle, author of The Devil in Silver

“Joanna Hershon’s A Dual Inheritance is deep and beautiful and humane. It has a massive scope and a social conscience, and yet is also incredibly intimate. What an accomplished novel; it truly took my breath away.”
–Jennifer Gilmore, author of Something Red

“Wise, heartfelt, and beautifully written, A Dual Inheritance is about the big things: love, work, family, money. It earns its ambitions and is astonishingly good. I just loved this novel.”
—Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You

“This insightful, worldly and engaging novel, at once intimate and broad in scope, traverses continents and decades while hewing closely to the psychological shadings of its characters. A rueful comedy of entitlements and chagrins, it says volumes about the way we live now.”
–Phillip Lopate, author of Getting Personal

“Joanna Hershon’s splendid new novel explores the choices of a generation through the lives of two friends, inextricably bound, in love with the same woman, and at war with themselves. Hershon creates a sprawling, spellbinding narrative that is as intimate with the lives of relief workers in Africa as it is with the inner workings of the boardrooms of Wall Street. A Dual Inheritance is stunningly wrought, compulsively readable and her strongest work yet by far.”
—Helen Schulman, author of This Beautiful Life

“This brilliant family saga captured me from its opening lines and kept me pinned to the couch—by turns laughing and sobbing—until I’d reached its stunning, satisfying conclusion. It calls to mind The Corrections and The Emperor’s Children, as well as Cheever and Michener and Potok, but this is also a novel squarely in the tradition of Victorian social realism, of Eliot and Gallsworthy and Dickens. And like those novels, A Dual Inheritance is a cracking story—populated with complicated, fascinating characters and fueled by surprising turns of plot—but it’s also a deft analysis of class and race in America. With it, Hershon establishes herself as one of the most important storytellers of the new millennium.
–Joanna Smith Rakoff, author of A Fortunate Age

“A grand, engrossing, ambitious, and memorably populated novel. Hurray for Joanna Hershon.”
–Elisa Albert, author of The Book of Dahlia