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Only Begotten Daughter

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  1,668 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Call it a miracle or an accident at the sperm bank. But Julie Katz, the half-sister of Jesus, has been born to a celibate father. Soon poor Julie is tempted by the Devil and challenged by neo-Christian zealots-and that’s just the beginning of her fantastic odyssey through Hell, a seceded New Jersey, and her own confused soul. Winner of a 1991 World Fantasy Award.
Paperback, 312 pages
Published February 28th 1996 by Mariner Books (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  1,668 ratings  ·  104 reviews


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Bradley
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I hesitate in calling this a satire because it's a highly-charged emotional bomb of a great story IN ADDITION to being some of the cleverest novels of scattershot inversions, sly winks, and outrageously funny situations.

You know, as funny as meeting Jesus in Hell is going to be, serving heroin to the damned in a soup kitchen just before they completely obliterate themselves. Or the realization that Jesus has a sister. A modern one. A true begotten daughter of God. Julie: the one who talks to spo
...more
Laura
Dec 29, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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
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
Mia
Aug 10, 2014 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
Jody
Sep 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
...more
Will
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Roxie
Nov 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: owned, brno
Great idea but poor execution.
Robyn
Mar 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 Morrell
Apr 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
megan
Apr 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Kristina
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Paul
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Started out with a lot of promise but lost me somewhere along the way. Would've preferred a longer stay with Murray. The rest of the characters ended up being boring. I finished the book hoping for a satisfying ending only to be disappointed. ...more
Bobbssw
May 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone!
probably the best of Morrow's Novels. Cannot recommend it enough! ...more
Peter
Apr 20, 2018 rated it liked it
In the modern day, God causes a second child to come into this world, this time a girl. Like her more famous brother Jesus, she's got divine powers, but isn't sure what her mission in life is, and she's got to figure it out... but it's tricky, especially with the frustrating silence of her divine parent, the devil trying to start up a new religion around her, and a particularly nasty apocalyptic sect of an existing one.

Obviously, with a premise like this, the book might offend some people's sen
...more
Lance Schonberg
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2020
Premise: since God has previously sent His only begotten Son to Earth with decidedly mixed results, it’s obviously time to switch things up and send Her only begotten Daughter. Through a combination of a celibate man making regular sperm donations, a miracle, and modern super tech, the next messiah comes into the world.

The premise is interesting, and the setup works fairly well, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired for me and things started to fall over almost the moment Murray Katz stop
...more
JA J
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
Picked up this book thinking it was a satire, but not the kind it turned out to be. Felt as though i were swimming through molasses trying to get through the scientific theories/jargon sometimes as one of the characters struggled to rectify religion vs. science. But it turned out that the book didn't rely on the eternal tug of war between faith and knowledge. I found some of the characters to be undeniably evil. Several years ago, I would have said that this was so unrealistic, but that was befo ...more
Sarah Anchors
The good: intriguing set up. Some good lines and some dark humor, and just plain darkness. Pacing was pretty good and it did keep me reading to the end to find out what happened.
The bad: Some moralizing. Never got a real good feel for personalities of our main characters. They were largely stereotypes: the bookish Jew, the outrageous lesbian, the libidinous drunk. The protagonist, God’s daughter, has an unclear and shifting personality. Deep, cautious and introspective at one time, then joining
...more
James Murphy
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Religion is a touchy subject for some people. Especially if the religion is Christianity. However, if you're of the Christian faith, and feel fairly open-minded, allow me to recommend for your reading pleasure a little gem by James K. Morrow titled "Only Begotten Daughter." It's the story of a celibate Jewish man who is a donor at a local sperm bank. One day the sperm bank informs him that one of his donations is contaminated. Investigating, the man discovers that the donation in question has im ...more
Ash Tanasiychuk
Mar 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Hold your breath, we're going under, deep into the sea, perhaps as far as hell...

But when we get there, it won't be quite as you've been told. In fact, despite this book being entirely dependent on the Bible, nothing is quite as Christians want you to believe.

God has a daughter. She was born in a test tube. She is an immaculate conception, this time not of a mother, but a father. A lonely older Jewish man, a hermit of sorts who lives in a still operational lighthouse. He happens to donate his s
...more
Rebecca
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm not sure what the point of this story was.

I mean, beyond pointing out the hypocrisy present in modern organized religion. Which is a valid point, but I'm not sure it takes that many pages, or that much meandering pedantry to do so. Also, the writing isn't nearly as witty or clever as it clearly thinks it is.

There's the core of something interesting here - but while the author takes on what should be deeply complex and engaging issues of family, addiction, self, and sexuality, he aggressively
...more
Elise T.
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Only Begotten Daughter isn't going to be for everyone. For the first 100 pages I would have thought Terry Prachett could have been the author (love, love, love), then the second third felt very "Catch 22", followed by 'the Handmaid's Tale". I like two of the three, and I could tell by how quickly I read the first third followed by pausing to read a completely other book halfway though that the dense satire of the middle half wasn't for me.
Overall, "Only Begotten Daughter" was a book I'm happy I
...more
Lisa
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Brian
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It's the story of Jesus' half sister in the modern world. Such an interesting concept to think how difficult it would be to have the power to heal but not be able to use it because it would be a never ending process. ...more
Kass
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Read this book when I was 12. Don’t actually remember whether I liked it enough to give a proper rating but the story stayed in my mind all these years later as something interesting so that’s something!
Alexburchee
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most brilliant of all his brilliant books.

Audacious. Sparklingly written. I have loved this author's every book. And this the best. Philosophy, humour, sadness, horror --
it's all here and more .
...more
Jean St. Pierre
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Different

Not a favorite. Some good humor though. If you like theological arguments you will probably like this dark, humorous novel.
Yan Sham-Shackleton
May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Penny
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Wow .. a mind-bender. I like philosophy, and humor, and the 1st half of the book was awesome. The 2nd half was gruesome. Hope you're not holding the forms of your religion too closely. ...more
Sarah Rigg
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Morrow is a favorite author. I read and enjoyed this in the mid-90s.
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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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