In a nativist near-future America obsessed with eternal life and under the increasing threat of technological surveillance, a long-lost brother and sister risk everything to reclaim their mother from oblivion.

When Adéla contracts a terminal illness, her thoughts turn to Tereza, the daughter she gave up at birth, forty years earlier. Leaving behind her moody, grown son, Roman, in their rural Czech village, she tracks down her daughter in New York City. But the America of 2029, with its authoritarian government and closed borders, is a different place from the country she experienced as a young woman, when she eloped with a filmmaker and starred in his cult sci-fi movie.

Tereza, the star researcher for a secretive biotech company hellbent on discovering the key to immortality, is overjoyed to reunite with her mother. But before she can find a cure, her mother dies mysteriously and is whisked away to a mass grave for undocumented immigrants in the swampy Florida wastelands. Distraught, Tereza travels to the Czech Republic to convince Roman, the brother she’s never met, to defy the law and the odds and return their mother’s remains to Czech soil.

Narrated from the beyond by Adéla, A Brief History of Living Forever is a high-wire act of storytelling that demonstrates once more Jaroslav Kalfař’s endless powers of invention. By turns insightful, moving, and funny, the novel blends an immigrant mother’s heartbreaking journey through the American dream with her children’s quest to reclaim her from a country that would erase any record of her existence. Above all, it is a reminder that neither space nor time can sever our connection to the ones we love.

Don't just take our word for it...

“Kalfar’s writing has the same hyperactivity, and fidgety contempt for generic boundaries, as that of the young Safran Foer…. Part space opera, part folk tale, his novel is also a love song to the city of Prague…. Funny, humane and oddly down-to-earth in ways that its scenario cannot possibly convey.”
– Claire Armitstead, The Guardian

“Kalfař is a wise, rapturous, and original writer . . . Eloquent, heart-stunning, and rich in awe-inspiring prose.”
– San Francisco Chronicle

Taste the very first page

On a cold morning in late November, I arrived at my physician’s office to discuss the results of my annual health exam. From the grim tone of the nurse who’d booked my visit and the dreams of abyss haunting me as of late, I knew to expect bad news, that the time had come at last to face the perilous consequences of my long years on Earth.

I came in early, hoping that old Dr. Škvorecek might see me before my appointment time so as not to risk being late for work. Alas, the room was already filled with a dozen patients, chattering about their aches and pains. Can u com in now?? my shift manager inquired in a text message as the nurse led me into the examination room one hour later. With no sense of urgency, Dr. Škvorecek poured me a cup of tea, leaned back in his chair, and revealed that an illness had taken root in my body. I was likely to die within a year, give or take a month. The doctor showered me with helpful leaflets on grief and offered to speak with my family to ease my burdens. A great poet of the macabre, Dr. Škvorecek described all the ways in which my body would devour itself — crumbling bones, renal failure, death by brain bleed or fungal infection—and I nodded with appreciation for his honesty as I watched the clock mark the beginning of my work hours.

Only as the doctor launched into a digression about the latest immortality research coming from America — as if suggesting I might be saved by some last-minute God pill — did I reclaim my time, thanking him for a life of service. Rumor had it that my workplace was planning to replace its employees with robots, I explained, and I’d vowed to become the perfect worker to show that I could compete with any machine. I took a polite sip of lukewarm tea, stuffed the leaf- lets into my purse, and rushed out of the office. The findings of my…