THE SCHOCKEN BOOK OF MODERN SEPHARDIC LITERATURE by Ilan Stavans

THE SCHOCKEN BOOK OF MODERN SEPHARDIC LITERATURE

edited by

KIRKUS REVIEW

Accounts of religious persecution and exile, plus assertions of ethnic pride, dominate these 28 prose and verse selections: a collection representing the multinational minority culture that sprung from the 1492 expulsion of Spain’s Jews.

Stavans’s informative Introduction and Chronology stress differences in style and content between Yiddish-derived Askhenazic culture and the Sephardic literaturs of “Spanish-speaking countries . . . [in] central Europe, . . . the Balkans, and . . . the Middle East.” The selections that follow are geographically varied, though there is redundancy among otherwise distinct renderings and memories of the Inquisition, diaspora, and Holocaust. One wishes Stavans had overlooked Edmond Jabès’s semi-intelligible The Book of Questions and Hélène Cixous’s “labyrinthine meditation” Coming to Writing—but appreciates encountering Edouard Roditi’s Browning-like dramatic monologue “The Complaint of Jehuda Abravanel” and Natalia Ginzburg’s superb essay “He and I,” and generous excerpts from underappreciated books like A.B. Yehoshua’s ingenious generational fiction Mr. Mani (1992), Gina Alhadeff’s lively memoir The Sun at Midday (1997) and Albert Memmi’s complex portrayal of “Arab Jews” in his arresting semiautobiographical novel Pillar of Salt (955).

An unusual anthology, then, well worth dipping into.

Pub Date: Jan. 11th, 2005
ISBN: 0-8052-4228-7
Page count: 464pp
Publisher: Schocken
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2004




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