Would you want to know the exact date of your death? Perhaps the four Gold children were too young to understand the consequences of learning their death dates from a mysterious fortune teller. The oldest, Varya, is only thirteen. Eleven-year-old Daniel, the next in line, has overheard people talking about this psychic and thinks they, including Klara, nine, and Simon, just seven, should pay her a visit. Varya is relieved to learn that she will live to be 88, but the others are more reluctant to share their dates. The book follows their lives, some short. Simon at sixteen runs off with eighteen-year-old Klara to San Francisco, where he will fall victim to the emerging AIDS epidemic and Klara will seek to make her name as a magician. Daniel becomes a doctor, and as a scientist, thinks he will escape the fate assigned to him – but like an appointment in Samarra, it finds him. Varya copes by also becoming a scientist who studies longevity using primates as research models. An odd book. 343 pp.