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The Seventh Gate (Zarco 4) [Paperback]

Richard Zimler
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Feb 2007 Zarco 4
In the Author's Note to his internationally bestselling novel, "The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon", Richard Zimler described how he discovered a long-lost 16th-century manuscript in an Istanbul cellar written by a Portuguese kabbalist named Berekiah Zarco. More than 400 years later, Isaac Zarco becomes convinced by the pact between Hitler and Stalin - and other 'signs' - that an apocalyptic prophesy made by his ancestor is about to come terribly true. Is he mad to believe that by decoding these ancient kabbalistic texts he might be the one to save the world? Set in 1930s Berlin, during the Nazis' rise to power, "The Seventh Gate" brings together Sophie Riedesel, an intelligent, artistic, and sexually adventurous fourteen-year-old with Isaac Zarco and his friends, most of whom are Jews, ex-circus performers and underground activists. When a series of forced sterilizations, brutal murders and 'disappearings' to concentration camps decimates the group, Sophie must fight with all her ingenuity and guile to save all that she loves about Germany - at any cost. In its beautifully shaped portraits and in its chilling but sensuous evocation of Berlin in the 1930s, "The Seventh Gate" is at one and the same time a love story and tragedy - and a tale of ferocious heroism.

Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Constable; First Softback Edition Later Print Run edition (8 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845294874
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845294878
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 746,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Zimler was born in Roslyn Heights, a suburb of New York, in 1956. After earning a bachelor's degree in comparative religion from Duke University (1977) and a master's degree in journalism from Stanford University (1982), he worked for eight years as a journalist, mainly in the San Francisco Bay area. In 1990, he moved to Porto, Portugal, where he taught journalism for sixteen years, first at the College of Journalism and later at the University of Porto.

Richard has published nine novels over the last 17 years. In chronological order, they are: The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, Unholy Ghosts, The Angelic Darkness, Hunting Midnight, Guardian of the Dawn, The Search for Sana, The Seventh Gate, The Warsaw Anagrams and The Night Watchman. His novels have appeared on bestseller lists in 12 different countries, including the USA, Great Britain, Portugal, Italy, Brazil and Australia. His books have been published in 23 languages.

Richard has won numerous prizes for his work, including the Marquis de Ouro prize in 2010 - as Book of the Year in Portugal - for The Warsaw Anagrams. This prize is voted on by high school teachers and students. He also won the 2009 Alberto Benveniste prize in fiction for Guardian of the Dawn (for best Jewish-themed novel published in France), and the 1998 Herodotus Award, for The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon (Best First Historical Novel). Additionally, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon was picked as 1998 Book of the Year by three British critics. Hunting Midnight, The Search for Sana, The Seventh Gate and The Warsaw Anagrams have all been nominated for the International IMPAC Literary Award, the richest prize in the English-speaking world. He was also granted a 1994 U.S. National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Fiction.

The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, Hunting Midnight, Guardian of the Dawn and The Seventh Gate form the "Sephardic Cycle," a group of inter-connected - but fully independent - novels about different branches and generations of a Portuguese Jewish family.

His latest novel, The Night Watchman, was a bestseller for three months in Portugal during the fall of 2013. It will be published in the UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in June of 2014.

A short film he wrote and acted in - The Slow Mirror - was awarded the Best Drama award at the 2010 New York Downtown Short Film Festival.

When Richard is not writing, he enjoys gardening at his weekend house in the north of Portugal.

Here is a synopsis of my new novel, THE NIGHT WATCHMAN:

When can a single crime reveal the depth of the moral crisis undermining a nation?

July 6, 2012... Chief Inspector Henrique Monroe is summoned to a luxurious Lisbon mansion to investigate the slaying of a construction magnate named Pedro Coutinho. The handsome 59-year-old has been gagged so cruelly that he choked to death before bleeding out from the bullet wound in his gut. On the wall behind him, five Japanese characters - ディアーナ - have been written in blood. After questioning the victim's guilt-ridden daughter, Henrique comes to believe that Coutinho might have been killed for defending the troubled teenager from the violent sexual advances of a family friend. And yet files on a hidden flash-drive he soon finds indicate that the victim may have been silenced by any one of a number of politicians whom he'd bribed in order to win construction contracts.

Henrique has occasionally alienated his police colleagues with his extraordinarily observant but wildly erratic behavior at crime scenes, and as he investigates Coutinho's murder, his conduct becomes ever more peculiar. We come to learn that he was severely abused during his childhood in rural Colorado and that a uniquely intuitive and highly protective guardian took over his mind and body when the mistreatment became impossible to bear. As Henrique struggles to keep the walls of his identity from crumbling in, another member of the victim's family dies under mysterious circumstances, destroying any chance he has of continuing to keep his alter-ego a secret.

In this uniquely moving portrait of a troubled police detective, Zimler has created a chilling psychological mystery that explores the ongoing effects of child abuse. Along the way, he has also given us a sensitive portrait of contemporary Portugal, a country just waking up to how badly it has been betrayed by a corrupt elite and suffering under the weight of its own historical errors.

Product Description


'Zimler is an honest, powerful writer.' --Guardian

'Zimler's writing is pacey and accessible without ever patronising the reader; deeply moving without ever descending into schmaltz.' --Observer

About the Author

Richard Zimler was born in New York and now lives and teaches journalism in Portugal. He has written five novels, including the internationally bestselling series The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, Hunting Midnight and Guardian of the Dawn.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very human book 4 April 2007
Although the story takes place in a period and place filled with some of the most momentous events of modern history, Zimler remains in perfect control of his plot and characters, avoiding the temptation to tell the broad story, and favouring a very human exploration. For all its literary characteristics, I found myself reading at a page-turning pace, drawn on by the suspense of the situation and the need to know how fate and the Nazis will treat a remarkable range of characters. The story of Isaac and Sophie (Sophele) is a love story of such depth and understanding that it acquires the status of something quite without match in fiction. Vera, the dwarves, the blind cellist, the Jewish characters all lead us through a time of danger, when all their lives are at daily risk. Their sufferings are seen through the eyes of Sophie, an Aryan 'normal' girl and woman who takes as many risks as anyone in her defiance of Nazi values and cruelty. Zimler's reconstruction of Berlin in this period is remarkable for its detail, above all for the setting it provides for his characters, who move in a very real universe that acquires the features of a madhouse. Unforgettable.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
I picked up "The seventh gate" because I read the "Last Kaballist of Lisbon" and really liked it. But I am a lisboner married to a Jewish American, so the last Kaballalist of Lisbon was always going to be special. And I just wasn't prepared for what I got from The Seventh gate, a novel set in 1930s about a young woman's life in Berlin. This book gives you a little bit of everything: mystery, romance (sensual and bare), in depth character development and historic perspective. But I have to say, it was the two main characters, Sophie and Isaac, that I fell in love with. Their love and tragedy, their honesty, their beauty. The book evoked strong feelings in me, and in some parts, it was hard to read for the pain that it describes (and in that sense it reminded me of the "Kite runner"). But the author cleverly and elegantly jumps from those moments to other more light and uplifting ones, making it one of those books that you just don't want to end. The longer you stay with Sophie and Isaac the better, despite their tragic lives...
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A vivid and engrossing novel set in 1930s Berlin 15 Feb 2007
This is the first book I have read by Richard Zimler and I am very impressed. I have read many books about Germany in the 1930s, both fiction and non-fiction, but none quite capture the dilemmas faced by ordinary Germans as the Nazi party came to power, as this book does.

The book centres around Sophie, an adolescent girl living in Berlin, with a Communist father and an overbearing mother, and a seemingly autistic brother. The cast of characters is huge, including Isaac Zarco, a Jewish expert on the Kabbalah, and a number of circus performers, some of whom have disabilities or deformities which only the circus seemed to find a place for. Sophie gets drawn into this circle of people who would later suffer at the hands of the Nazis, at the same time as her own parents get drawn into the Nazi party. Sophie herself finds herself living a double life, continuing to help and see her new friends, while being compelled by her mother to join the League of German Maidens, the female wing of the Hitler Youth movement. To make life even more complicated, she is love with a young Nazi, despite hating the ideas he stands for.

The book is structured around the Seven Gates of the Kabbalah, and each section seems to reveal new dilemmas and new horrors as the Nazi party rises to power. Obviously the backcloth of the story is Jewish persecution, but we are also confronted with the effects of the Nazi's horrific policies towards disabled people. The fictional setting allows Zimler to show what those policies meant in human terms, particularly the impact on families and friends of those whose bodies carried signs of "inferior" physical conditions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book! 4 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Another beautifully written book about the saddest time in history - sadder still that equal horrors are still committed in the world today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coming of Age in the Other Holocaust 9 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Riuchard Zimler's latest historical thriller is a truly daring work of art that tackles neglected stories from an unlikely perspective. The Seventh Gate is about "the other Holocaust," about the forgotten and too often unmourned other victims, who, in numbers nearly as staggering as the slaughtered Jews, were also targeted by the Nazis. They were homosexuals, the congenitally handicapped, the mentally impaired, the Rom, and many more. They were imprisoned, enslaved, sterilized, and murdered by a systematic, socially sanctioned enterprise of terror that was aided, abetted, and executed by their neighbors.

The Seventh Gate follows a framework that Zimler readers will immediately recognize, even as he takes them on a deep dive into uncharted waters. Nominally, it is a murder mystery in an historical setting, a time and place etched by the writer with an engraver's precision and a composer's passion. As in his previous novels, Zimler imbeds that mystery in a time of such chaos and change that the simple murder of a single person might easily be thought to be of little interest or consequence.

Zimler's book is courageous not only in its subject matter but also in its point of view. It is told by a teenage girl coming of age during the rise of the Nazis in Germany before and during World War II. Zimler is almost always convincing in adopting this unlikely persona, even as he pushes the boundaries of the believable when his protagonist falls in love with and begins an affair with an elderly man. This relationship crosses into doubly forbidden territory, because Isaac Zarco is a Jew and Sophie Riedesel is Christian. Zimler's portraits of Sophie and Isaac, and of Sophie's autistic brother, Hansi, are at once high art and completely grounded.
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