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Sepharad
Antonio Munoz Molina
Adult Fiction MUNOZ M

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Award-winning Spanish author Mu?oz Molina explores themes of memory and exile in this dense, ardent volume, his second to be translated into English (after Winter in Lisbon). "I have invented very little in the stories and voices that weave through this book," he writes in his author's note; in 17 chapters linked by theme and subject, readers meet men and women-both real and imagined-in the shadow of the Holocaust and the regimes of Stalin and Franco. In "Copenhagen," Mu?oz Molina reflects on the relationship between narrative and travel: on Franz Kafka's affair with Milena Jesenka, which was "crisscrossed with letters and trains," and a Jewish acquaintance's memory of a trip to Paris in 1944, when a jammed hotel door sparked the terror of a captivity narrowly avoided. In "Silencing Everything," a man from Madrid recalls his experiences as a soldier in Russia during WWII, and in "Sacristan," a man who left his small village for the city mourns the changes in his childhood home. The author himself appears as a character, a man in exile from his own life, drowning in his search for stories: "I have flirted," he says, "with the idea of writing a novel, imagined situations and places, like snapshots...." Mu?oz Molina's stories are intensely engrossing, but his prose can be tricky: he might switch mid-paragraph, for instance, from first-person to third-person narration, and his descriptions of physical details can take on the tone of an incantatory recitation. But patient readers will be richly rewarded by a nuanced view into a foreign world. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Munoz Molina's second novel to be translated into English (after Prince of Shadows) is a brilliant series of literary meditations on the nature of memory and evil. Franz Kafka wanders like a phantasm throughout, and many other writers who have explored the persistence of the past serve as individual touchstones, Marcel Proust, Primo Levi, and Joseph Conrad among them. The chapters are individual tales of travel through time and space, during which the narrator meets someone who tells him a story of horror related to the major holocausts of the 20th century, in particular those perpetrated by Hitler and Stalin. Though Spanish Jews often did not suffer directly from such persecution, they are effectively linked through such devices as cultural or political ties, a disillusioned Communist, a displaced Hungarian shopkeeper now in Tangiers, and the author himself. A sad and perhaps unintended irony is that this book, originally published in Spain in 2001, ends in New York with a view of the World Trade Center. The richness of Munoz Molina's writing emerges from Peden's exemplary translation, and the book should take its place alongside such Holocaust-related works as Aharon Appelfeld's The Iron Tracks. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 8/03.]-Harold Augenbraum, Mercantile Lib. of New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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