Paperback è Sefarad MOBI Þ

Paperback è Sefarad MOBI Þ


Sefarad [PDF / Epub] ☀ Sefarad ✍ Antonio Muñoz Molina – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk Kirjailijan pääteos on hiottu ja syvää humanismia huokuva kuvaus erilaisissa rajatiloissa häilyvistä syrjään sysätyistä ihmisistä Sefarad on kuningaspari Ferdinandin ja Isabellan 1400 luvun Kirjailijan pääteos on hiottu ja syvää humanismia huokuva kuvaus erilaisissa rajatiloissa häilyvistä syrjään sysätyistä ihmisistä Sefarad on kuningaspari Ferdinandin ja Isabellan luvun lopulla Espanjasta karkottamien juutalaisten antama nimi kadotetulle isänmaalleen jonne nämä aina kaipasivat Kirja sisältää otsikoitua näennäisesti irrallista tarinaa jotka yhdessä muodostavat ehjän kokonaisuuden Kirjailija itse on verrannut rakennetta muodoltaan vapaaseen epäsinfoniseen musiikkiin Teemat henkilöt ja jopa jotkut lauseet toistuvat läpi teoksen Omaelämäkerralliseen aineistoon ja sepitteellisiin henkilöhahmoihin tulee lisäksi mukaan historiallisia henkilöitä kuten Franz Kafka ja Milena Jerenka Primo Levi ja Walter BenjaminUseat henkilöistä ovat romaanin nimen mukaisesti juutalaisia mutta aina he ovat jonkinlaiseen maanpakoon joutuneita sotilasjuntan uhreja vainottuja tai muutoin ei toivottuja Kuoleminen rakastuminen yksinäisyys turhautuminen eristäytyminen – jokaisella on oma Sefaradinsa rajatilansaYhteistä on kertojan ääni joka on lämmin ja ymmärtävä Kaiken keskellä se kehottaa solidaarisuuteen yhteyteen toisten kanssa Se ei sorru tunteellisuuteen vaan liikuttaa inhimillisellä armeliaisuudella ja myötäelämisellä Pohjimmiltaan koskettava teos kertoo jälleen kerran muistista ajankulusta ja siitä kuinka me kaikki olemme sittenkin yhtä.

  • Paperback
  • 545 pages
  • Sefarad
  • Antonio Muñoz Molina
  • Finnish
  • 04 June 2016

About the Author: Antonio Muñoz Molina

Antonio Muñoz Molina is a Spanish writer and since June a full member of the Royal Spanish Academy He currently resides in New York City United States In he served as the director of the Instituto Cervantes of New YorkHe was born in the town of Úbeda in Jaén provinceHe studied art history at the University of Granada and journalism in Madrid He began writing in the s a.



10 thoughts on “Sefarad

  1. Cynthia Cynthia says:

    On page 140 the author appears to describe a vision for this bookFor two or three years I have flirted with the idea of writing a novel imagined situations and places like snapshots or like those posters displayed on large billboards at the entrance to a movie theater That these stills were never in narrative seuence made them all the powerful freed them of the weight and vulgar conventions of a scenario; they were revelations in the present with no before or after When I didn't have the money to go inside I would spend hours looking at the photographs outside the theater not needing to invent a story to fit them together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle Each became a mystery illuminating the others creating multiple links that I could break or modify at my whim patterns in which no image nullified the others or gained precedence or lost its uniueness within the wholeHere it is as if Muñoz Molina is describing not only his journey but mine; or as if he is describing what living is like for many of us The journey is our life From pages 153154Days before leaving my life had already been turned by the magnet of my journey pulled toward the hour of departure which approached with agonizing slowness I was still here yet distant though no one noticed my absence not from the places I lived and worked not from the things that were extensions of myself and indicated my existence my immobilized life confined to a single city to a few streetsNever was I so obsessed with impossible journeys as then so distanced from myself and from the tangible and real around me It wasn't that an important part of me was hidden from others' eyes; my whole self was hidden The shell that others saw didn't matter at all it had nothing to do with me With literary vanity I sought refuge in being unknown hidden but there was a conformity in me at least as strong as my rebellion with the difference that the conformity was practical while the rebellion showed only occasionally as a blurry discontentThere were two worlds one visible and the other invisible and I adapted tamely to the norms of the first so I could retreat without too much inconvenience into the secondMy thoughts upon completionThis book didn’t make me want to pick it up between readings But why should it be the book’s responsibility to make me? It was I who needed this book and not the other way around And as I took my time for weeks reading it I was unable to forget that need of mine I could not find a desire to read anything else between my short sessions with Muñoz Molina’s journey in this novel And with each paragraph each chapter each page I was filled up with his poetry of thought and his longing for memory There was no other way for me to read this bookHis journey is a long one His memories and reflections his connections between one train one place one tense and another take time I was surprised each time I picked it up that this book is a light 385 pages when his travels between the book’s covers are so weighty The traveling between past and present between history and personal memoir between what appears to be fiction and is known to be nonfiction goes so very deep and so very far After finally finishing it I know I am still there in those pages almost nauseous from the whirlwind of the author’s processing I am relieved to be done yet I know I have to read the book again His words and reflections resonate with an ancestral me I have never been to Spain though my maternal ancestors were emigrants from there As far as I know I have no Jewish ancestors But over the course of my reading I ponder and how impossible it seems that we are not each to some degree related within the diaspora of the human soulAs I read this I found that almost instantly – if I was not terribly distracted and even when I was – I was drawn in as if by an old friend who by chance meets me on a street in some gray city of my past and with an arm around my shoulders walks with me and picks up a tale he has been telling me for years I was captured almost against my will and yet mesmerized flattered and transfixed by the tale and the intimacy of the encounter I would go into a tranceIt occurred to me fleetingly that the book I insist on writing is no longer necessary now that I have read Sepharad It is not my book but the journey I have taken with the author in his book has been exhaustive And though my own memories and history are different in the details his writing on the displacement and isolation of those whose home is lost is not so different from what I would wish to write about having never had a home at heart It has made me wonder at the displacement of an individual's soul and how the history of exile and cruelty and shadow still shines a dim beacon for all of us who might know what it means to be alienated from our own past and future

  2. Elaine Elaine says:

    A revelationlapidary new insight into so many of my own intellectual and emotional obsessions both an intimate portrait of mourning the loss of youth growing up travel and the trains taken and untaken and a history of the 20th century and beyond Most reminded me of reading Proust

  3. Elise Elise says:

    Sepharad is one of the most beautifully written books I have read in a long time most refreshing for a reader who loves language and history My only problem with this book is that it was billed as a novel Those looking for a linear tale of suspense that takes place in single setting will be disappointed in this book This is not a page turner but it is worth the work It reads like a collection of prose poems linked by characters that appear disappear and reappear mirroring their movement throughout the Diaspora Sepharad is a panoramic history of the Diaspora of Sephardic Jews in Spain during WWII but it touches on the earlier 15th century Sephardic Diaspora as well The book's scope and setting is expansive weaving stories and diverse perspectives both fictional and historical on WWII and it's ripple effects throughout the Western world Russia Germany Hungary Spain America and othersin a breathtaking Rashomon like tapestry of human love longing loss horror and hope Here are some highlights to showcase Molina's beautiful masterful and loving use of languageTo the person you meet on a train in a foreign country you are a stranger who exists only in the present A woman and a man look at each other with a tingle of intrigue and desire as they take seats facing each other at that moment they are as detached from yesterday and tomorrow and from names as Adam and Eve were when they first looked upon each other in Eden Molina 23 The great night of Europe is shot through with long sinister trains with convoys of cattle and freight cars with boarded up windows moving very slowly toward barren wintry snow or mud covered expanses encircled by barbed wire and guard towers Molina 29 30Death will come and she will have your eyes To write and to read was to weave a protective and airless cocoon to drink a potion that would allow me to flee invisible to take a tunnel that no one knew to scratch the wall of my cell with the patience of Edmond Dantes With a silken line of blue ink I spun a world filled with imaginary men and women who softened the harsh edges of reality Molina 324My life had only past and future The present was a parenthesis an empty space like the spaces that separate written words the automatic touch of a thumb to the long bar of the type writer the line that separates two dates on a calendar the pause between two beats of the heart I lived from one letter among the ordinary envelopes on my mail tray to the next recognizing it from afar the moment the clerk came through the door with the large folder of correspondence under his arm unaware of the treasure he was bringing me Molina 325 After reading Sepharad I am also eager to read Franz Kafka's Letters to Milena which are often referenced here

  4. Bert Hirsch Bert Hirsch says:

    Book ReviewSepharad by Antonio Munoz MolinaA book I thoroughly enjoyed yet am at a loss to describe What is it about? What are the themes? Is it a novel? Is it autofiction? Is it an extended essay? All these uestions roll around as I attempt to pull this review together I read through some notes I jotted down as I read through this magnificent piece of literatureThe book begins with people in the process of travel Bus riders; train occupants; strangers meeting up travelers on the road enad with The “lightness of being” a shout out to Kundera one experiences when away from home and daily routines The narrator riffs on books he read while he too was on the road on a trip to Patagonia in a hotel room in Buenos Aires he reads Bruce Chatwin’s masterpiece while at the same time Chatwin lies bedridden close to death from an unnamed virusExiles never able to return home subjected to round ups in Europe and in Moscow grabbed by fascist Nazis or Communist revolutionaries ‘with beating hearts we fixed our attention on the sound of boots closer and closer” and as I read these historical events I cannot but think of the undocumented immigrants my neighbors right here in America as they cower in this age of Trump and his ICE troops He names names Professor Klemperer a WWI Iron Cross recipient a war hero of the German nation of Jewish descent goes about his daily routines in denial that the rising fascist forces would ensnare him Eugenia Ginzberg a Communist party member refuses to notice the alarm signals she ends up in the Gulag for 18 yearsMany of the stories told are from the Iberian Peninsula Molina well aware of the history of persecution the Inuisition a 15th century stain on the Spanish country he narrates the story of Senor Salama who escaped from Budapest he and his son on a business trip while his wife and daughters are caught and sent to Auschwitz He and his son make their way to safety in Tangiers his son retuning to Spain after the war the father left to decide should he stay or go to Israel of the Moroccans he says “I hope they throw us out with better manners than the Hungarians or the Spanish in 1492Sepharad was the name of our true homeland although we’d been expelled from it than four centuries ago My father told me that for generations out family kept the key of the house that had been ours in Toledo and he detailed every journey they’d made since they left Spain as if he were telling me about a single life that had lasted nearly five hundred years He always spoke in the first person plural WE emigrated to North Africa and then some of US made our homes in Salonika and others in Istanbul to which WE brought the first printing presses and in the nineteenth century WE arrived in Bulgariainvolved in the grain trade along the ports of the Danube settled in Budapest WE were Spanish my father would say using his prideful plural Did you know that a 1924 decree restored Spanish nationality to the Sephardim?”Molina writes of insomnia reading in bed he turns the light out but “I’ve missed falling asleep the way you miss a train by a minute by seconds and I know that I will have to wait for it to return and that it may be hours before it comes When I can’t fall asleep the ghosts of the dead return the ghosts of the living as well people I haven’t seen or thought of in a long time events actions names from earlier lives laced not with nostalgia but rather with regret or shame Fear returns too a childish fear of the dark of shadows or shapes that take on the form of an animal or a human presence of the door about to open” He goes on to describe a Willi Munzenberg in Moscow 1936 lying awake next to his wife and every time he heard footsteps in the corridor outside their room he thought with a shudder of clearsighted panic ‘they’ve come they’re here’These are the stories and people Molina writes about the terror the uprootedness the alienation the persecuted these are people of the Sepharad How the assimilated Jews of Germany the war heroes those proud of German culture Molina’s interpretation of Kafka how “you can wake up one morning at an unpleasant hour of the working man and discover you’ve been transformed into an enormous insect You can go to your usual café believing that nothing has changed and learn from the newspaper that you are not the person you thought you were and no longer safe from shame and persecution” The Nuremberg Laws changed everything in a day you were no longer a German you were a Jew made to wear a yellow star and be expelled from daily customsAs the book nears its end the narrator relates his visit to Germany to lecture about his latest book unable to sleep he finds himself in a café filled with older Germans imagining them as they might have been fifty years earlier stiff armed salutes yelling Heil Hitler and then further imagining himself sitting there “wearing a yellow star stitched on my overcoathad I been in this same pastry shop would one of those men in a black leather coat have approached me and asked for my papers” Molina reflects on all he has written the Inuisition the Nazi terror the Stalin purges the pogroms all of those lives lost many in unburied graves and asks “each had a life unlike any other just as each face each voice was uniue and the horror of each death was unrepeatable even though it happened amid so many millions of similar deaths How when there are so many lives that deserve to be told one can attempt to invent a novel for each in a vast network of interlinking novels and lives?”Indeed Molina has answered his own uestion This masterpiece his book Sepharad is a testament to those many lives

  5. Psychophant Psychophant says:

    This is a very hard book to read It deals mainly with alienation yearning for a lost pastland loss and genocide I had to take it in small doses or it can really pull you down because although there are some glimmers of hope and joy they are small and far betweenI have shelved it as short stories because this is not an usual novel It is a series of almost real and real stories all dealing with the idea of the lost country the one we left behind whether it is childhood youth freedom the actual Sefarad or simply the world before the Nazis came I think that it is true on one hand that the loss for a child that moves to the great city is not so dissimilar to one who is sent to an extermination camp On the other hand it is not the same emotion at all so that weakens the whole bookIt is well written as it is to be expected from the careful prose of Muñoz Molina and his beutiful mastery of language However he keeps a careful distance from the text most of the time as I suppose was the only way to keep writing among the bleakness But that once again detracts in a few chapters where we hope for a bit emotion Not that he does not feel he just does not transmit it as well as he does transmit vague unease or guarded joy Just the way he writes I supposeDespite the relatively low score this is a book I am glad I have read but I am also glad that I have finished it at last Despite the fact that half the stories deal with non Spanish specific subjects the whole set is directed to a certain age and certain experiences making it also uite directed to people with many common aspects with the writer Which is why I also lower its score as a book despite its power for me even or because it has taken me over a year to read it

  6. Robert Wechsler Robert Wechsler says:

    It took me a while to figure out this novel but what kept me interested throughout was the excellent storytelling the excellent voices of the narrators and the way Molina keeps you off balance with changing person voice and storyWhat does hold the various stories together is the way they all show the effects of totalitarianism on individuals real and invented A lot is about exile and self imposed exile even exile while still living in one’s homeland There is a lot of nostalgia confusion and ruined or lost relationships It’s a humanizing of something that was inhuman or at least the abuse of what is human because sadly what is human than abusing other humans directly and indirectly intentionally or not

  7. Adam Adam says:

    Wow this is a book after my own heart It says on the cover that it's a novel but I don't think so Really its a collection of stories which are mostly personal but with many recurring motifs and themes that link them together If you are Spanish or Jewish or love 20th century European history or traveling or have migrated from a provincial city to a major capital this book will speak to you The book is made up of 17 chapters each of which can really stand on its own as an independent narrative for the most part These are the ones I was most impressed byThe first chapterstory that really grabbed me was Olympia about a business trip the narratorauthor made to Madrid in his younger days where he spent the better part of a day wandering the streets killing time until his scheduled departure finally dropping in on an old flame Its descriptions of the narrator's state of mind and of Madrid itself where I have done my fair share of wandering are so authentic and moving that I had the feeling of I could have written this Why didn't I?I also enjoyed Berghof which reads like a traditional short story about a Spanish doctor on vacation with his family on the Mediterranean coast of Spain who unexpectedly finds out what really goes on inside one of the luxurious villas overlooking the waterWherever the Man Goes is a description of what was twenty years ago one of the seedier parts of Madrid and is now one of the trendier the neighborhood north of Gran Via near Plaza de Chueca I lived in Madrid around the time this was written late 90s to early 2000's and his description of the seamy characters who populated this area is spot on It was a scary and fascinating place back then and though it has changed mostly for the better the fact that it will never be the same again adds an aura of nostalgia and melancholy to this clearly drafted chapterAnd of course the final chapter Sepharad largely set in New York which mentions the Spanish Jewish cemetery on W11th St and features a visit to the Hispanic Society on W155th Street an impressive and nearly deserted treasure house of Spanish art in an unlikely neighborhood New York is my lifelong home and Madrid is my second home and Molina describes them both so clearly and authentically that I immediately trust all of his other descriptionsSome of the other chapters that touch on Kafka Primo Levi and various European Jews of the 20th Century I found interesting but less engaging Obviously these chapters are based on the author's reading than on his personal experience But Molina is making an admirable attempt to weave the history of Spain which can sometimes feel like an island unto itself into the broader history of Europe and to integrate the important and tragic role Jews have played in both of those historiesAgain I wouldn't call it a novel and it doesn't even read as fiction for the most part But I loved it and think it's a great and uniue work

  8. K K says:

    I tried If I had a shelf for is it just me or does the emperor have no clothes this would be on it It got great reviews from all the snobby publications and I simply couldn't make heads or tails of it I didn't get any sense of a novel and I never uite learned who the narrator narrators? was It felt like each chapter was meant to be its own short story but within each of those several different tales were being told in an almost stream of consciousness way One minute we're Catholic Spaniards the next minute we're Holocaust victimsrefugees in various eastern European locations etc Maybe I should have given this of a chance but I had trouble giving it even the 50 pages I feel I owe any given book before deciding to discard it

  9. Mobeme53 Branson Mobeme53 Branson says:

    An absolutely remarkable book; this is not so much of a novel as a collection of narratives from diverse times and backgrounds The theme such as it is is about death injustice prejudice sorrow and happiness This book reuires readers to be alert and fully engaged It took me a while to get used to the style particularly that sometimes in the middle of a paragraph the person speaking changes For example wife begins the conversation and then the husband's perspective takes over The dialogue is almost prose Here's an example Bits and pieces of you are left behind in other lives rooms you lived in that others now occupy photographs or keepsakes or books that belonged to you and now someone you don't know is touching and looking at letters still in existence when the person who wrote them and the person who received them and kept them for a long long time are dead Far from you scenes from your life are relived and in them you're a fiction a secondary character in a book a passerby in the film or novel of another persons life Or this I imagined the suicide in morbid detail From a literary point of view was shooting oneself or killing oneself slowly with alcohol a form of heroism? I watched the hopeless drunks in the dark taverns of the side streets with both admiration and disgust for each hid a terrible truth whose price was self destruction

  10. Paul Paul says:

    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 disappearedSome 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 pariahMolina's writing is tender and very moving The chapters of Sheherazade America You are and Narva were my favourites coming as they do in seuence 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

10 thoughts on “Sefarad

  1. Cynthia Cynthia says:

    On page 140 the author appears to describe a vision for this bookFor two or three years I have flirted with the idea of writing a novel imagined situations and places like snapshots or like those posters displayed on large billboards at the entrance to a movie theater That these stills were never in narrative seuence made them all the powerful freed them of the weight and vulgar conventions of a scenario; they were revelations in the present with no before or after When I didn't have the money to go inside I would spend hours looking at the photographs outside the theater not needing to invent a story to fit them together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle Each became a mystery illuminating the others creating multiple links that I could break or modify at my whim patterns in which no image nullified the others or gained precedence or lost its uniueness within the wholeHere it is as if Muñoz Molina is describing not only his journey but mine; or as if he is describing what living is like for many of us The journey is our life From pages 153154Days before leaving my life had already been turned by the magnet of my journey pulled toward the hour of departure which approached with agonizing slowness I was still here yet distant though no one noticed my absence not from the places I lived and worked not from the things that were extensions of myself and indicated my existence my immobilized life confined to a single city to a few streetsNever was I so obsessed with impossible journeys as then so distanced from myself and from the tangible and real around me It wasn't that an important part of me was hidden from others' eyes; my whole self was hidden The shell that others saw didn't matter at all it had nothing to do with me With literary vanity I sought refuge in being unknown hidden but there was a conformity in me at least as strong as my rebellion with the difference that the conformity was practical while the rebellion showed only occasionally as a blurry discontentThere were two worlds one visible and the other invisible and I adapted tamely to the norms of the first so I could retreat without too much inconvenience into the secondMy thoughts upon completionThis book didn’t make me want to pick it up between readings But why should it be the book’s responsibility to make me? It was I who needed this book and not the other way around And as I took my time for weeks reading it I was unable to forget that need of mine I could not find a desire to read anything else between my short sessions with Muñoz Molina’s journey in this novel And with each paragraph each chapter each page I was filled up with his poetry of thought and his longing for memory There was no other way for me to read this bookHis journey is a long one His memories and reflections his connections between one train one place one tense and another take time I was surprised each time I picked it up that this book is a light 385 pages when his travels between the book’s covers are so weighty The traveling between past and present between history and personal memoir between what appears to be fiction and is known to be nonfiction goes so very deep and so very far After finally finishing it I know I am still there in those pages almost nauseous from the whirlwind of the author’s processing I am relieved to be done yet I know I have to read the book again His words and reflections resonate with an ancestral me I have never been to Spain though my maternal ancestors were emigrants from there As far as I know I have no Jewish ancestors But over the course of my reading I ponder and how impossible it seems that we are not each to some degree related within the diaspora of the human soulAs I read this I found that almost instantly – if I was not terribly distracted and even when I was – I was drawn in as if by an old friend who by chance meets me on a street in some gray city of my past and with an arm around my shoulders walks with me and picks up a tale he has been telling me for years I was captured almost against my will and yet mesmerized flattered and transfixed by the tale and the intimacy of the encounter I would go into a tranceIt occurred to me fleetingly that the book I insist on writing is no longer necessary now that I have read Sepharad It is not my book but the journey I have taken with the author in his book has been exhaustive And though my own memories and history are different in the details his writing on the displacement and isolation of those whose home is lost is not so different from what I would wish to write about having never had a home at heart It has made me wonder at the displacement of an individual's soul and how the history of exile and cruelty and shadow still shines a dim beacon for all of us who might know what it means to be alienated from our own past and future

  2. Elaine Elaine says:

    A revelationlapidary new insight into so many of my own intellectual and emotional obsessions both an intimate portrait of mourning the loss of youth growing up travel and the trains taken and untaken and a history of the 20th century and beyond Most reminded me of reading Proust

  3. Elise Elise says:

    Sepharad is one of the most beautifully written books I have read in a long time most refreshing for a reader who loves language and history My only problem with this book is that it was billed as a novel Those looking for a linear tale of suspense that takes place in single setting will be disappointed in this book This is not a page turner but it is worth the work It reads like a collection of prose poems linked by characters that appear disappear and reappear mirroring their movement throughout the Diaspora Sepharad is a panoramic history of the Diaspora of Sephardic Jews in Spain during WWII but it touches on the earlier 15th century Sephardic Diaspora as well The book's scope and setting is expansive weaving stories and diverse perspectives both fictional and historical on WWII and it's ripple effects throughout the Western world Russia Germany Hungary Spain America and othersin a breathtaking Rashomon like tapestry of human love longing loss horror and hope Here are some highlights to showcase Molina's beautiful masterful and loving use of languageTo the person you meet on a train in a foreign country you are a stranger who exists only in the present A woman and a man look at each other with a tingle of intrigue and desire as they take seats facing each other at that moment they are as detached from yesterday and tomorrow and from names as Adam and Eve were when they first looked upon each other in Eden Molina 23 The great night of Europe is shot through with long sinister trains with convoys of cattle and freight cars with boarded up windows moving very slowly toward barren wintry snow or mud covered expanses encircled by barbed wire and guard towers Molina 29 30Death will come and she will have your eyes To write and to read was to weave a protective and airless cocoon to drink a potion that would allow me to flee invisible to take a tunnel that no one knew to scratch the wall of my cell with the patience of Edmond Dantes With a silken line of blue ink I spun a world filled with imaginary men and women who softened the harsh edges of reality Molina 324My life had only past and future The present was a parenthesis an empty space like the spaces that separate written words the automatic touch of a thumb to the long bar of the type writer the line that separates two dates on a calendar the pause between two beats of the heart I lived from one letter among the ordinary envelopes on my mail tray to the next recognizing it from afar the moment the clerk came through the door with the large folder of correspondence under his arm unaware of the treasure he was bringing me Molina 325 After reading Sepharad I am also eager to read Franz Kafka's Letters to Milena which are often referenced here

  4. Bert Hirsch Bert Hirsch says:

    Book ReviewSepharad by Antonio Munoz MolinaA book I thoroughly enjoyed yet am at a loss to describe What is it about? What are the themes? Is it a novel? Is it autofiction? Is it an extended essay? All these uestions roll around as I attempt to pull this review together I read through some notes I jotted down as I read through this magnificent piece of literatureThe book begins with people in the process of travel Bus riders; train occupants; strangers meeting up travelers on the road enad with The “lightness of being” a shout out to Kundera one experiences when away from home and daily routines The narrator riffs on books he read while he too was on the road on a trip to Patagonia in a hotel room in Buenos Aires he reads Bruce Chatwin’s masterpiece while at the same time Chatwin lies bedridden close to death from an unnamed virusExiles never able to return home subjected to round ups in Europe and in Moscow grabbed by fascist Nazis or Communist revolutionaries ‘with beating hearts we fixed our attention on the sound of boots closer and closer” and as I read these historical events I cannot but think of the undocumented immigrants my neighbors right here in America as they cower in this age of Trump and his ICE troops He names names Professor Klemperer a WWI Iron Cross recipient a war hero of the German nation of Jewish descent goes about his daily routines in denial that the rising fascist forces would ensnare him Eugenia Ginzberg a Communist party member refuses to notice the alarm signals she ends up in the Gulag for 18 yearsMany of the stories told are from the Iberian Peninsula Molina well aware of the history of persecution the Inuisition a 15th century stain on the Spanish country he narrates the story of Senor Salama who escaped from Budapest he and his son on a business trip while his wife and daughters are caught and sent to Auschwitz He and his son make their way to safety in Tangiers his son retuning to Spain after the war the father left to decide should he stay or go to Israel of the Moroccans he says “I hope they throw us out with better manners than the Hungarians or the Spanish in 1492Sepharad was the name of our true homeland although we’d been expelled from it than four centuries ago My father told me that for generations out family kept the key of the house that had been ours in Toledo and he detailed every journey they’d made since they left Spain as if he were telling me about a single life that had lasted nearly five hundred years He always spoke in the first person plural WE emigrated to North Africa and then some of US made our homes in Salonika and others in Istanbul to which WE brought the first printing presses and in the nineteenth century WE arrived in Bulgariainvolved in the grain trade along the ports of the Danube settled in Budapest WE were Spanish my father would say using his prideful plural Did you know that a 1924 decree restored Spanish nationality to the Sephardim?”Molina writes of insomnia reading in bed he turns the light out but “I’ve missed falling asleep the way you miss a train by a minute by seconds and I know that I will have to wait for it to return and that it may be hours before it comes When I can’t fall asleep the ghosts of the dead return the ghosts of the living as well people I haven’t seen or thought of in a long time events actions names from earlier lives laced not with nostalgia but rather with regret or shame Fear returns too a childish fear of the dark of shadows or shapes that take on the form of an animal or a human presence of the door about to open” He goes on to describe a Willi Munzenberg in Moscow 1936 lying awake next to his wife and every time he heard footsteps in the corridor outside their room he thought with a shudder of clearsighted panic ‘they’ve come they’re here’These are the stories and people Molina writes about the terror the uprootedness the alienation the persecuted these are people of the Sepharad How the assimilated Jews of Germany the war heroes those proud of German culture Molina’s interpretation of Kafka how “you can wake up one morning at an unpleasant hour of the working man and discover you’ve been transformed into an enormous insect You can go to your usual café believing that nothing has changed and learn from the newspaper that you are not the person you thought you were and no longer safe from shame and persecution” The Nuremberg Laws changed everything in a day you were no longer a German you were a Jew made to wear a yellow star and be expelled from daily customsAs the book nears its end the narrator relates his visit to Germany to lecture about his latest book unable to sleep he finds himself in a café filled with older Germans imagining them as they might have been fifty years earlier stiff armed salutes yelling Heil Hitler and then further imagining himself sitting there “wearing a yellow star stitched on my overcoathad I been in this same pastry shop would one of those men in a black leather coat have approached me and asked for my papers” Molina reflects on all he has written the Inuisition the Nazi terror the Stalin purges the pogroms all of those lives lost many in unburied graves and asks “each had a life unlike any other just as each face each voice was uniue and the horror of each death was unrepeatable even though it happened amid so many millions of similar deaths How when there are so many lives that deserve to be told one can attempt to invent a novel for each in a vast network of interlinking novels and lives?”Indeed Molina has answered his own uestion This masterpiece his book Sepharad is a testament to those many lives

  5. Psychophant Psychophant says:

    This is a very hard book to read It deals mainly with alienation yearning for a lost pastland loss and genocide I had to take it in small doses or it can really pull you down because although there are some glimmers of hope and joy they are small and far betweenI have shelved it as short stories because this is not an usual novel It is a series of almost real and real stories all dealing with the idea of the lost country the one we left behind whether it is childhood youth freedom the actual Sefarad or simply the world before the Nazis came I think that it is true on one hand that the loss for a child that moves to the great city is not so dissimilar to one who is sent to an extermination camp On the other hand it is not the same emotion at all so that weakens the whole bookIt is well written as it is to be expected from the careful prose of Muñoz Molina and his beutiful mastery of language However he keeps a careful distance from the text most of the time as I suppose was the only way to keep writing among the bleakness But that once again detracts in a few chapters where we hope for a bit emotion Not that he does not feel he just does not transmit it as well as he does transmit vague unease or guarded joy Just the way he writes I supposeDespite the relatively low score this is a book I am glad I have read but I am also glad that I have finished it at last Despite the fact that half the stories deal with non Spanish specific subjects the whole set is directed to a certain age and certain experiences making it also uite directed to people with many common aspects with the writer Which is why I also lower its score as a book despite its power for me even or because it has taken me over a year to read it

  6. Robert Wechsler Robert Wechsler says:

    It took me a while to figure out this novel but what kept me interested throughout was the excellent storytelling the excellent voices of the narrators and the way Molina keeps you off balance with changing person voice and storyWhat does hold the various stories together is the way they all show the effects of totalitarianism on individuals real and invented A lot is about exile and self imposed exile even exile while still living in one’s homeland There is a lot of nostalgia confusion and ruined or lost relationships It’s a humanizing of something that was inhuman or at least the abuse of what is human because sadly what is human than abusing other humans directly and indirectly intentionally or not

  7. Adam Adam says:

    Wow this is a book after my own heart It says on the cover that it's a novel but I don't think so Really its a collection of stories which are mostly personal but with many recurring motifs and themes that link them together If you are Spanish or Jewish or love 20th century European history or traveling or have migrated from a provincial city to a major capital this book will speak to you The book is made up of 17 chapters each of which can really stand on its own as an independent narrative for the most part These are the ones I was most impressed byThe first chapterstory that really grabbed me was Olympia about a business trip the narratorauthor made to Madrid in his younger days where he spent the better part of a day wandering the streets killing time until his scheduled departure finally dropping in on an old flame Its descriptions of the narrator's state of mind and of Madrid itself where I have done my fair share of wandering are so authentic and moving that I had the feeling of I could have written this Why didn't I?I also enjoyed Berghof which reads like a traditional short story about a Spanish doctor on vacation with his family on the Mediterranean coast of Spain who unexpectedly finds out what really goes on inside one of the luxurious villas overlooking the waterWherever the Man Goes is a description of what was twenty years ago one of the seedier parts of Madrid and is now one of the trendier the neighborhood north of Gran Via near Plaza de Chueca I lived in Madrid around the time this was written late 90s to early 2000's and his description of the seamy characters who populated this area is spot on It was a scary and fascinating place back then and though it has changed mostly for the better the fact that it will never be the same again adds an aura of nostalgia and melancholy to this clearly drafted chapterAnd of course the final chapter Sepharad largely set in New York which mentions the Spanish Jewish cemetery on W11th St and features a visit to the Hispanic Society on W155th Street an impressive and nearly deserted treasure house of Spanish art in an unlikely neighborhood New York is my lifelong home and Madrid is my second home and Molina describes them both so clearly and authentically that I immediately trust all of his other descriptionsSome of the other chapters that touch on Kafka Primo Levi and various European Jews of the 20th Century I found interesting but less engaging Obviously these chapters are based on the author's reading than on his personal experience But Molina is making an admirable attempt to weave the history of Spain which can sometimes feel like an island unto itself into the broader history of Europe and to integrate the important and tragic role Jews have played in both of those historiesAgain I wouldn't call it a novel and it doesn't even read as fiction for the most part But I loved it and think it's a great and uniue work

  8. K K says:

    I tried If I had a shelf for is it just me or does the emperor have no clothes this would be on it It got great reviews from all the snobby publications and I simply couldn't make heads or tails of it I didn't get any sense of a novel and I never uite learned who the narrator narrators? was It felt like each chapter was meant to be its own short story but within each of those several different tales were being told in an almost stream of consciousness way One minute we're Catholic Spaniards the next minute we're Holocaust victimsrefugees in various eastern European locations etc Maybe I should have given this of a chance but I had trouble giving it even the 50 pages I feel I owe any given book before deciding to discard it

  9. Mobeme53 Branson Mobeme53 Branson says:

    An absolutely remarkable book; this is not so much of a novel as a collection of narratives from diverse times and backgrounds The theme such as it is is about death injustice prejudice sorrow and happiness This book reuires readers to be alert and fully engaged It took me a while to get used to the style particularly that sometimes in the middle of a paragraph the person speaking changes For example wife begins the conversation and then the husband's perspective takes over The dialogue is almost prose Here's an example Bits and pieces of you are left behind in other lives rooms you lived in that others now occupy photographs or keepsakes or books that belonged to you and now someone you don't know is touching and looking at letters still in existence when the person who wrote them and the person who received them and kept them for a long long time are dead Far from you scenes from your life are relived and in them you're a fiction a secondary character in a book a passerby in the film or novel of another persons life Or this I imagined the suicide in morbid detail From a literary point of view was shooting oneself or killing oneself slowly with alcohol a form of heroism? I watched the hopeless drunks in the dark taverns of the side streets with both admiration and disgust for each hid a terrible truth whose price was self destruction

  10. Paul Paul says:

    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 disappearedSome 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 pariahMolina's writing is tender and very moving The chapters of Sheherazade America You are and Narva were my favourites coming as they do in seuence 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *