Only Begotten Daughter

Only Begotten Daughter
Only Begotten Daughter  
Cover of first edition (hardcover)
Author(s) James Morrow
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Fantasy novel
Publisher William Morrow and Company
Publication date 1990
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 312 pp
ISBN 0-688-05284-3
OCLC Number 20294258
Dewey Decimal 813/.54 20
LC Classification PS3563.O876 O55 1990

Only Begotten Daughter is a 1990 fantasy novel written by James Morrow, setting the stage for his later Godhead Trilogy. The book shared the 1991 World Fantasy Award with Ellen Kushner's Thomas the Rhymer.[1] It was also nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1990,[2] and both the Locus and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards in 1991.[1]

Plot Summaries

The story is about Julie Katz, the Messiah who is the daughter of God, who is spontaneously conceived from a sperm bank donation through what Morrow terms inverse parthenogenesis. Julie struggles with her messianic powers, the mind games of Satan, being hunted by fundamentalists, and the silence of her mother, God.

This novel is a counter-theodicy similar to the Godhead Trilogy. In addition, Only Begotten Daughter refers to God as a female throughout the entire book.


Inverse parthenogenesis. This is a baffled scientist’s explanation for the existence of an entirely unexpected ovum in Murray Katz’ latest sperm bank donation: unexpected because, as Murray himself admits, he doesn’t know many women. He lives alone in a lighthouse in Atlantic City; a Jewish hermit pushing fifty, writing a book about human nature based on evidence gleaned from a job at the local Photomat.

The result of these gathered abnormalities is Julie Katz, half-sister to Jesus. Well-schooled in the appropriate use of her messianic powers by her only visible parent (that is to say, as never as Murray can manage), Julie reaches adulthood and explores life, death, Hell and the universe on the East Coast of the modern United States.

She is ten years old when she meets her “mother’s oldest friend,” Mr. Wyvern; the plot thereafter is derived from the intervention of family, fun in the Absecon inlet, the guiding phantom eye of Pastor Billy Milk, his fundamentalist sheep roving Atlantic City with juice jugs of milk, and the problems posed by her extra gifts. The overarching story of the book is that of a satirical theodicy, questioning why human beings suffer from evil and pain, and exploring the ingenuity with which we combat those conditions.


External links

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