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A gripping literary mystery in the tradition of The Name of the Rose, set among secret Jews living in Lisbon in the sixteenth century.
A number-one bestseller in Portugal, with French, German, Italian and Brazilian rights sold, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon is an extraordinary novel that transports the reader into the universe of Jewish Kabbalah during the Lisbon massacre of April 1506. Just a few years earlier, Jews living in Portugal were dragged to the baptism font and forced to convert to Christianity. Many of these "New Christians," in secret and at great risk, persevered in their Jewish prayers and practiced their rituals, and the hidden, arcane practices of the kabbalists, a mystical sect of Jews, continued as well.
One such secret Jew was Berekiah Zarco, an intelligent young manuscript illuminator. Inflamed by love and revenge, he searches, in the crucible of the raging pogrom, for the killer of his beloved uncle Abraham, a renowned kabbalist and manuscript illuminator, discovered murdered in a hidden synagogue, along with a young girl in deshabille. Risking his life in streets seething with mayhem, Berekiah tracks down answers among Christians, New Christians, Jews, and the fellow kabbalists of his uncle, whose secret language and codes at turns light and obscure the way to the truth he seeks. A marvelous read, a challenging mystery and a telling tale of the evils of intolerance, The Last Kabbalist Of Lisbon compels and entertains.
"In its authentic evocation of Lisbon's clandestine Jewish community, its aura of menace and its startling, beautiful imagery steeped in Jewish mysticism, this exotic story is memorable and haunting." -Publishers Weekly
"One of the more unusual and interesting first novels of recent vintage." -Kirkus Reviews
Richard Zimler is an American who has lived in Portugal for the past seven years, where he is a professor of journalism at the University of Porto. His short fiction has been anthologized in The Book of Eros, Men on Men: 6, and 700 Kisses.