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Only Begotten Daughter

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  1,441 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
Morrow explores the difficulties facing God's twentieth-century offspring, complete with virgin birth. Julie Katz is a New Jersey girl--the miracle child of a celibate Jewish recluse whose sperm sample, donated to an Atlantic City baby bank, spontaneously gestates.
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published February 1st 1990 by William Morrow & Company (first published 1990)
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Mia
Aug 10, 2014 Mia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
** This book requires a very open mind, the ability to suspend judgment, and a deeply ingrained sense of humor. **


To supplement his income, Murray Katz made regular contributions to a sperm bank. To Murray's surprise and to the surprise of the scientists at the Institute, one of his contributions was spontaneously fertilized and is being grown in an ectogenesis machine-- a female fetus. Though he had never contemplated fatherhood before, Murray is unable to leave his potential progeny behind and
...more
Laura
Dec 29, 2008 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as a gift from my boyfriend's parents, who read it for a literary program through their Unitarian Universalist Church. The premise of the novel: What if a modern Messiah was born? What if a celibate man brought forth a daughter of God through a combination of miracle and modern science? And what if everything you've ever been taught about God, the Devil, Heaven, and Hell are wrong?

The concept driving the novel is a good one, I think, and I enjoyed a lot of the plotting. My f
...more
Sarah
I loved this book. LOVED. IT. Then again, I’m one of those people who enjoys this sort of dark humor and a good poke at all things sacred. I can see how a vast swath of the population would find this book absolutely offensive, so be warned about that. Julie’s coming-of-age as the daughter of God is touching, frustrating, and funny. Her journey to hell is enlightening, and deliciously thought-provoking. The ending felt perfect for the book as a whole. Perhaps, however, the best thing I can say ab ...more
Nathan
Act 1- In which we meet a bunch of personality quirks masquerading as characters. And some basic background is laid down.

A strange loner in a lighthouse learns one of his sperm bank donations has self-fertilized, a new immaculate conception, this time in a test tube. Meet Julie Katz, daughter of God, but unsure of her purpose. Dad plays the worried Jewish man and fears her divinity will make her a target. Best friend Phoebe thinks she should be out saving the world, rebellious teen with a big he
...more
Jody
Sep 26, 2008 Jody rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was such a clever book. It raises the idea of what if there were a "daughter of God". This book is a very sarcastic fable/story that delves into what would happen if God had a daughter in modern times.

I read this in college and had the chance to actually meet the author. The only question he wouldn't answer was "what was his religion." He wanted to keep that to himself.
Robyn
This is not an "I have an afternoon to kill" kind of book. The commentary on religion, human nature and church history is enough to keep you busy for days, reading and re-reading passages, and having discussions about what the author means, and whether his ideas are very pious or very blasphemous. If you pick this up, you will get the most enjoyment out of it if you have a friend or loved one also reading it, so that you can have conversations and compare notes. It's THAT kind of book. However, ...more
Michelle M
Apr 06, 2009 Michelle M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x-read-2009
Not at all what I expected, this is a gem of a book. Julie Katz is the daughter of God and as hard as she tries to live a normal life, world-changing events follow in her path. Raised by a jewish scholar and a lesbian with a baby of her own, her vision of family is refreshingly modern, as is her belief in the divinity of science. Her message to the world that science does have all the answers, we just don't have all the science and her well established lack of perfection lead Julie and her peopl ...more
Will
Jan 05, 2009 Will rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The characters are one-dimensional, by which I mean that Molly, the robotic hand, is just as interesting as anyone else in the book. Moreover, the first third of the plot drags, and the rest of the book barely holds together. There are bright moments when Julie, the begotten daughter, escapes her earthly life and a little later during her return, but they aren't enough to elevate the characters.

Maybe my recent reading Camus' The Rebel is biasing my impression, but one of Morrow's theses appears
...more
Alex
Jul 27, 2007 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A miracle causes the egg less sperm of a sperm donor to sprout into a fetus. Murray Katz his medical oddity and the machine it is in and thus incubates the daughter of God and the half sister to Christ. Good and evil battle in a New Jersey gone Christian fundamentalism meets the thunderdome. The devil seems to hold all the cards and all the souls until the conclusion in which balance seems to be restored. Very good read- the end wasn’t as strong as the rest, but I enjoyed this immensely. A close ...more
Kristina
May 18, 2012 Kristina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so genius I don't even know where to start......

Iconoclastic and yet light-hearted, Morrow turns Christianity on its side and offers a fun alternative to what is generally accepted as the "second coming."

A Jewish man makes a donation at a sperm bank and finds out later that (somehow) there's an embryo in it. After saving the specimen--with its immaculately conceived contents--from destruction, he proceeds to raise this child, Jesus' half-sister.

I highly recommend reading this novel
...more
megan
Apr 10, 2007 megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Conspiracy Theorists/Sci Fi & Fantasy Geeks
I would never have picked this book up had it not been given to me--but I was thankful it was. It had a very intriguing premise--a male celibate lighthouse keeper brings about the second coming of Christ in the form of a daughter. I can't remember all the details about it--but I do remember you did not have to have a strong understanding of the bible to "get" the book--most of the items that needed to be explained in order to understand the plot were--but, of course, a founding in some of the ge ...more
Bobbssw
May 19, 2014 Bobbssw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone!
probably the best of Morrow's Novels. Cannot recommend it enough!
Lisa
Jun 11, 2017 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book! If you have a slightly warped sense of humor and enjoy satire where organized religion is the target, I will guess you would enjoy this as well. A virgin birth via a fertilized ovum discovered in a sperm donation tube. This is how god's daughter comes to earth in the 21st century. Ha! She is raised by a single Jewish man( the donor) and his lesbian best friend (carrying a child from the same sperm bank). The story evolves and is a crazy ride through the lunacy of blind "faith" w ...more
Jean-Pascal
May 08, 2017 Jean-Pascal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un roman très original et qui tient la route jusqu'au bout sans chercher à plaire ni à se rendre plat ou facile.
Daniel
Apr 15, 2016 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.0 of 5

I've only read one other James Morrow book (Towing Jehovah) and I'm not sure why that is. Morrow is a fantastic writer and, based on the now two books that I've read, he is incredibly original, funny, and dark.

This book takes on Christianity, skewers it, and flips it on its side.

In this story, Murray Katz, the keeper of an abandoned lighthouse (our first hint of the symbolism that is rife in the book) near Atlantic City,
...more
Christopher Roberts
I found it difficult to know how to rate this novel. Like the first novel by Morrow that I read, "Towing Jehovah", it starts off extremely strong and then doesn't quite live up to its premise. In the case of Towing Jehovah, Morrow starts out with a mind-blowing premise but settles for a rather conventional use of storytelling once you get to the end. This novel is the opposite. Morrow once again has a great premise but starts off telling it rather straight. Then about halfway through the book t ...more
Brian
Sep 28, 2009 Brian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
this has got to be the worst book i have ever read. i should start reading what a book is about before i just buy it/read it. whatever.

the premise, jesus reincarnate in 21st century through means of artificial insemination. the new 'immaculate conception.' i read a book like this before, it was called the genesis code, it was better than this book. but still horrible in its own right.

the problem with this book is that it is a bit too spectacular for the things that actually happen. it started wh
...more
José Vivas M.
Oct 31, 2015 José Vivas M. rated it liked it
Shelves: in-english, 2015
No recordaba por qué había abandonado la lectura de esta novela la primera vez, hace mil años, siendo tan provocativa la premisa que la sustenta: en tiempos modernos, de un padre soltero (¿virgen?) nace en Nueva Jersey la "hija única" de Dios. La media hermana de Jesucristo, nada menos. Todo desde ahí es una especie de reflejo en género invertido de la vida de Jesús y del hecho religioso: hasta Dios es mujer (si es que existe; la duda carcome a Julie Katz desde su infancia, pues su Madre no se m ...more
Glen Engel-Cox
What I like about James Morrow is his audaciousness. He’s willing to come up with an idea in the grand old SF tradition, i.e., BIG, and then run with it. Take “Daughter Earth,” a story in which a planet is born to a nice northeast couple, or “City of Truth,” a story about a city where no one ever lies. Or here in this novel, in which a new savior is sent to the world, but it’s a girl this time. From immaculate conception–she evolves from her jewish father’s sperm donation–to being tested by the ...more
Simone
Dec 16, 2013 Simone rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Review initially published on my blog, Writing by Numbers, here.

I needed something to read on the plane, but I’m squeamish about buying books before I know I’ll love them forever. Then, like a bolt from the blue, I found a bookstore with a $1 shelf, and this standing out like a weird little beacon.

The blurb on the back describes Only Begotten Daughter as what happens when a lonely lighthouse-dwelling sperm donor finds that, without an egg, his “donation” is developing into a baby. This immacula
...more
Jeanette Cupcake
Jul 21, 2008 Jeanette Cupcake rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeanette Cupcake by: Nikki :-)
So I borrowed this book from Nikki, and have to admit, I was a little skeptical. It took me a while to get into it. The books is split into three parts and the first part did nothing for me, but I made myself hang in there- and thank goodness i did! The second and third parts were so worth the wait. I dont know how to describe the story without giving everyhting away, but pretty much its about a mand who donates his sperm and it produces a baby- without an egg or a mother. From this "miracle" co ...more
Matthew
Aug 09, 2011 Matthew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
2 weeks of my life I'll never get back. Morrow writes well, but this guy reeeeeeally has a bug up his keister against people of faith.

The concept of a daughter born with the messiah spark is not offensive; rather, the grotesque caricature of the religious broadcasting giant is hacked out as a sad, one dimensional joke, worse than any Ayn Rand antagonist or Steinbeck-ian Pentecostal (in Grapes of Wrath).

Insulting, horrific, with a revolting ending that goes far beyond the pale of anything one wo
...more
Jim Razinha
Aug 16, 2015 Jim Razinha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a rare case of reader's block and this was the book that broke it. I've tried to read it a few times in the past after reading Towing Jehovah, but never got past the first part. Delightfully irreverent, comical, and sadly tragic in human commentary, Morrow weaves an interesting twist to a common tale. And he also writes one of the best lines I've ever read, a quote I've used for 20 years:
“Science does have all the answers,” said Howard, withdrawing. “The problem is that we don’t have all
...more
Linda  Branham Greenwell
This is a new story of God... God who sends his only begotten daughter to earth.. the daughter of a male jewish lighthouse keeper and a fertility clinic.
It will change your thoughts into a more endearing portrait of God

As someone on Amazon said:
" Religious fanatics and Devout Believers in Scientism both show up in bad form in this book. If you're an existentialist with a dark sense of humor, you'll love reading this. If you're a devout, evangelical Christian, I suspect you won't have as much fu
...more
Zoom
Aug 16, 2015 Zoom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
You ever come across one of those books that you can tell it's a good book but you just can't get into it? This was that book for me. It's about Christ's much younger sister, Julie. It's well-written, clever and amusing, but I don't know enough about Christianity to understand many of the references. I liked the humour when I got it, but I suspect there was a lot that went over my head. Nevertheless, I persevered, I soldiered through it, and I got to the end. Phew. This book wasn't for me, but I ...more
Jennifer
Jan 26, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, owned
A lot of interesting ideas. The second immaculate conception occurs when a fertilized egg is discovered in a lonely Jewish man's sperm donation. The egg is placed in an experimental artificial womb, from which eventually is born Julie Katz, Jesus's half-sister. This book amused me more in college, now it's so far from where I am theologically it doesn't seem to hold together under its own weight. But I still get some sinister amusement at the idea of Jesus in hell, giving water to the sufferers, ...more
Calen
Apr 01, 2009 Calen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah a semi-comedic swipe at organized religion in the form of a coming of age story about god's daughter who is as confused as one would expect but never gets over it. Entertaining enough to read, but not what I'd expected from an award winning author. None of the characters are particularly intriguing or real and the ideas are certainly not new, even if reconstituted in a creative environment. It might hold more interest and novelty for someone not quite as jaded towards organized religion and i ...more
Alan
I always enjoy Morrow's books. Theological discussion with a rationalist is always fun. For the daughter of God, born by virgin birth to an Jewish recluse living in a lighthouse, to choose science and rationality as her ministry is a wonderful concept. God is there, but once She started the universe in motion, has taken a hands off approach. The Devil is out and about causing Mayhem. Read it.
Sarah
Sep 19, 2008 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Excellent book about a jewish bachelor who ends up "giving birth" to Jesus' half-sister, Julie. Julie has the typical struggles of a teenager and young adult, combined with the question of "why does Mom never talk to me?" and "what is my mission anyway?" and "why doesn't dad want me to do miracles?"

The the crazies come in and try to turn Atlantic City into a biblical city, and that is when things get really interesting.

Yes, she does meet her Mom. Maybe.
Wendy
Sep 05, 2013 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC
I did think that this was an interesting story line, I liked the whole concept however the author tends to lose you most of the time. Especially because he jumps around and the way the dialogue worked. You have to pay attention or you'll get lost. I also found Julie really annoying, I didn't really respect her until the end. But then again, how would anyone feel if they were the child of God with enemies and be a slavery to people.
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Born in 1947, James Kenneth Morrow has been writing fiction ever since he, as a seven-year-old living in the Philadelphia suburbs, dictated “The Story of the Dog Family” to his mother, who dutifully typed it up and bound the pages with yarn. This three-page, six-chapter fantasy is still in the author’s private archives. Upon reaching adulthood, Jim produced nine novels of speculative fiction, incl ...more
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“At the heart of all truth lies a radiant cloud of unknowing, a glorious nugget of doubt, a shining core of impermanence.” 3 likes
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