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September 12, 2003 - Image 84

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-12

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

L Y
F A I I NG
DINING

On The Bookshelf

Featuring Our

"Senior Menu

to our 60 and Over Valued Guests!

Nightly Dinner Specials

The Inquisition's
Other Side

Mon -Thurs Starting at $4 95*
Every Night has Different Specials

(all include Soup or Salad & Desert)
If you're looking for something lighter at lunch...

Richard Zimler's sequel to "The Last Kabbalist
of Lisbon" explores 19th-century Portuguese
Jewish life, American slavery.

Enjoy our New 1/2 Sandwich & Cup of Soup

Specials
Different Every Day!

Mon -Thurs Only Starting at $2 95*

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Special to the Jewish News

*Specials are not good with any other offer or discounts.

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C

with family friends who are also hidden
Jews, and, along with Midnight, studies
the Torah with a learned neighbor, a
pharmacist, who also works with
Midnight on herbal remedies.
From Midnight, the young boy also
learns about animal life, the natural
world, and emotional life too, and he
also hears the traditional tales of
Midnight's African homeland.
John's idyllic friendship with

ertain books leave readers
longing for the sequel.
Richard Zimler's 1998 debut
novel, The Last Kabbalist of
Lisbon, was such a book — it was trans-
lated into 12 languages and was a best-
seller in 11 countries.
And now, two novels later, Zimler has
written an epic work, Hunting
Midnight (Delacorte Press; $24.95),
that again takes up themes related
to Portuguese Jewry centuries ago, a
time when Jews were forced to
become New Christians, at least on
the outside, and many continued
their lives as Jews in secret.
The novels are set 300 years
apart, the first just before the begin-
ning of the Inquisition, when Jews
were forcibly converted to
Christianity, and the new book.
takes place at the end of the
Inquisition period, in the early
1800s, with the Napoleonic inva-
sions.
"In a sense they are bookends to a
very bleak period in Portuguese
Jewish history," Zimler says in an
interview from his home in Porto,
in the north of Portugal.
Hunting Midnight moves from
Portugal to the United States, and
"Hunting Midnight"• A richly woven
Zimler links the subject of the
tapestry of Portuguese Jewry.
Inquisition with the institution of
slavery. He explains that "having
Midnight ends abruptly when he is told
this parallel gave me an opportunity to
of Midnight's death on a trip to
write about intolerance apart from its
London. His close-knit family seems to
particular historical context, as some-
fall apart, and his father is killed when
thing to be battled wherever it occurs."
Napoleon invades Portugal.
"Midnight" is the name of an African
Later, he learns that Midnight is not
Bushman, who comes to live with the
dead, but was sold into slavery and
family of John Zarco Stewart in Porto.
shipped to America. The second part of
As a 12-year old, John is shocked to
the book is his search, across continents,
learn of his Jewish roots: His mother
for his friend, determined to set him
descends from hidden Jews, and his
free. A second narrator appears, and her
father, a gentile, is from Scotland.
After some violent losses and illness in story is woven together with John's.
The plot is full of mystery and ques-
John's young life, his father brings
tions, with mystical underpinnings and
Midnight as a healer and companion.
rich metaphors. A secret manuscript,
John studies painting and tile making

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