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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sepharad: A Novel., 16 Mar 2008
Mr. B. A. D. Plowman "Brendan" (UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sepharad (Paperback)
"Sepharad" by Antonio Munoz Molina: A spellbinding, heart-rending, rich tapestry of a novel that combines historical facts with both real life and fictional characters. And, quite simply, it's an amazing read.

"Sepharad" contains 17 stories that touch on the Sephardic diaspora, the Holocaust and Stalin's purges. We climb inside the tormented minds of various individuals - Communist dissenters locked inside a world of painful paranoia; persecuted Jewish people who cannot begin to comprehend what is happening to them; the author's own private anguish as he awaits blood test results...

I could go on, but really this novel should be experienced without any preconceptions. Personally, I don't think I have ever read a novel that throbs with so much COMPASSION. At various points, I had to put the book down and take a deep breath. Make no mistake, this is heady stuff.

I've found it rather hard to review this book - it's an intense, hypnotic read, and my words here seem in comparison a bit clumsy and futile. I would say, though, that as a cautionary tale, "Sepharad" almost matches up to Primo Levi's Holocaust masterpiece "If This Is A Man / The Truce". It's a highly important piece of literature and an unforgettable journey.

A professional review in the San Francisco Chronicle summed up "Sepharad" perfectly by describing it as a "tender and terrible book".

It is both of those things and more. An essential purchase.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Arresting and intriguing..., 11 Oct 2010
Paul Harris (Llantrisant, Wales) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sepharad (Paperback)
This is certainly an arresting and intriguing book, though its billing as 'a novel' is misleading. Rather, it is a loosely-themed collection of sketches, essays and stories. The author writes very beautifully, though I must confess that his habit of obscuring the identity and gender of the narrator was a little disconcerting. Perhaps that is intentional, as one theme running through the 17 chapters is that of uncertainty and dispossesion. This is essentially a book about the lives of the disappeared.

Some of the tales refer to well known historic figures such as Kafka or Primo Levi, while others concern less well known people such as Jean Amery or Grete Buber-Neumann, wife of the 1930s German Communist leader Hans Neumann. Other pieces centre on the author's own life from his past or his present. The sensation is one of transience and impermanence. The lives of those others are in transit, from or to incarceration or persecution, typically alone in the world and often filled with tragic outcomes for either themselves or their loved ones. The fear of a totalitarian society is conveyed, as you may enter a cafe to sit and drink coffee and read the newspaper - only to leave on the run newly aware of the latest decree marking you as a pariah...

Molina's writing is tender and very moving. The chapters of Sheherazade, America, You are.., and Narva, were my favourites coming as they do in sequence near the end of the book. Suddenly, for me the book made complete sense. Only 4 stars as I found the first third of it slightly befogging..
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding novel, 2 Oct 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Sepharad (Hardcover)
Beautiful book about novels, about tragedies, about hatred and fear, and love... beautifully written mixing real characters (Primo Levi, Willi Muzenberg, Kafka) and non real ones.
A book that talks about the misery and the beauty of human beings; about racism, sexism,violence and all the other things we prefer not to think about.
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Sepharad by Antonio Munoz Molina (Hardcover - Dec 2003)
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