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The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon is a novel that transports the reader into the mystical universe of kabbalah during the Lisbon massacre of April 1506. Just a few years earlier, Jews living in Portugal were dragged to the baptism font and forced to convert to Christianity. Many of these "New Christians," in secret and at great risk, persevered in their rituals, and the hidden, arcane practices of the kabbalists continued as well.
One such secret Jew was Berekiah Zarco, a young manuscript illuminator. Inflamed by love and revenge, he searches for the killer of his beloved uncle Abraham, a renowned kabbalist discovered murdered in a hidden synagogue, along with a young girl in deshabille. Risking his life in streets seething with mayhem, Berekiah tracks down answers among Christians, New Christians, Jews, and the fellow kabbalists of his uncle, whose secret language and codes at turns light and obscure the way to the truth he seeks.
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Richard Zimler's The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon is not a particularly religious novel, but it uses religion to great dramatic effect. Although its story takes place during the 16th- century slaughter of Jews in Portugal, and its main characters are Jewish mystics, Zimler is less interested in describing their spiritual lives than in plotting a fantastic murder mystery. The book purports to be a modern translation of a medieval manuscript telling the story of the murder of a great kabbalist in Lisbon named Abraham. Occasionally, the story invokes a bit of kabbalist wisdom that is every bit as luminous as the ancient texts that inspired this novel: "Books are created from holy letters," one character says. "Just as angels are, according to some. Viewed from this perspective--through a window of Kabbalah, if you like--an angel is nothing but a book given heavenly form." Such moments are too rare for the book to be very perceptive about the tradition to which its title alludes, but nevertheless, it's an absorbing and genuinely suspenseful story. -- Michael Joseph GrossAbout the Author:
Richard Zimler is Professor of Journalism at the University of Porto, Portugal.
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Book Description Overlook Hardcover, 1998. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0879518340
Book Description Overlook Books, 1998. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0879518340
Book Description Overlook Books. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0879518340 New Condition. Seller Inventory # NEW7.0476636