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Sepharad

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  609 ratings  ·  71 reviews
En estas páginas Primo Levi, Franz Kafka, Evgenia Ginzburg, Milena Jesenska, Dolores Ibárruri o Walter Benjamin mezclan sus tragedias con las de personajes ficticios. Todos ellos comparten un estigma: un día despiertan convertidos en lo que otros cuentan de ellos, en lo que alguien que no les ha conocido cuenta que le han contado, en lo que alguien que les odia imagina que ...more
Kindle Edition, 385 pages
Published August 4th 2008 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Cynthia
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On page 140, the author appears to describe a vision for this book:

"For 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 sequence made them all the more 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
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Elaine
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
A revelation...lapidary 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.
Elise
Mar 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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 more like a collection of prose poems linked by characters that appear, disappear, and reappear, mirroring their ...more
Bert Hirsch
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book Review:Sepharad by Antonio Munoz Molina

A 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 questions 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 literature.

The book begins with people in the process of travel. Bus riders; train occupants; strangers meeting up travelers on the road
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Robert Wechsler
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: span-lit
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 story.

What 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,
...more
Adam
Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
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Psychophant
This is a very hard book to read. It deals mainly with alienation, yearning for a lost past/land, 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 between.

I 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,
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K
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 quite 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 ...more
Paul
Jan 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Chiara Coletti
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


Finished it, but very slowly. Sepharad is a great and complex novel that should be read in sittings of no more than an hour. The narrative rolls seamlessly from person to person, place to place, time to time, so that the shifts are barely perceptible, and each time I became aware of another shift, I had to go back through the pages to discover how that had happened and wonder when I had left behind an imaginary character and encountered a historical one. It is a tapestry of interwoven vignettes
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Mary
May 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oddly, I think this is a better book than my experience of it might indicate. It's beautifully written covering most of the 20th century with a mix of history, memoir, story of experiencing the holocaust and of ageing, mainly, from multiple perspectives. But I just kept getting lost and confused (sometimes I couldn't tell who was speaking or what time period I was in or he'd mention someone from a previous chapter and I vaguely remembered them. . . ) and fear I missed much of its narrative ...more
Micebyliz
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
need to put this book in the stack for a while. i read about 100 pages and realized that it would be better for me to finish another time. it's just my kind of book though and so far very good. i'm happy to report i have read most of the references so i have a good grasp of the stories. sometimes it pays to be a bookworm!!!
So glad i picked this back up to read. It's enthralling in the best possible way. Special recommendation thanks for youknowwhoyouare :)
Stephen Murley
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sepharad is an imporant and challenging book. It is among the best books I have read this year. Having read the GR synopsis and other reader's reviews which I found interesting and enlightening, I don't have much to add except my recommendation to encounter this story.
Donovan Richards
Origins

Since as early as the 2nd century, Spanish Jews have labeled the Iberian Peninsula – the land mass of Portugal and Spain – as “Sepharad.” To this day, Modern Hebrew still refers to Spain as “Sepharad.” For many, “Sepharad” is a word that signifies the culture of Spanish Jews.

In Antonio Muñoz Molina’s work, Sepharad, the author details the consequences of World War II on this population. Put simply, the holocaust acted not only as a heinous genocide, but also as a divider. In the horror of
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Constance Bodensee
Beautifully written, echoes of Proust.
A collection of short stories, each one to be savoured on its own.
Ann Diaz-Weiner
Sep 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Life's too short to read boring books
Susan
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book extremely interesting, as well as very relevant to our current political climate: in making allusions as well as direct references to the plight of Jews in Europe (in Spain--hence the title--but also in Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and various countries in Eastern Europe), Antonio Muñoz Molina makes us think about how it feels to be deported, exiled, persecuted and discriminated against. More than a novel, it is a collection of short stories with a "tenuous thread" ...more
Dara Salley
Sepharad doesn’t really have a plot. It’s more like a series of essays on a theme. The theme, as I can best sum it up, is Diaspora. Molina focuses on the displacement of Spanish people during World War II and the Cold War. He weaves together stories of unknown citizens with those of famous authors who were affected by some of the traumatic events that occurred in 20th century Europe. He is constantly coming back to his theme and asking the reader, “How would you feel if you had to leave your ...more
Katlyn
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: packs-a-punch
A glittering work that is, admittedly, very difficult to slog through. I know the fluid shifting between voices has a literary purpose, but I still can't help wondering if it reads better in Spanish, where the feminine and masculine pronouns are easier to see. In a way it unified an apparently discordant set of stories-- certain images and phrases return and, when I was lucky, immediately contextualize the relative time and place of whatever chapter I was reading. But there are such luminous ...more
Alexander Veee
"Without your knowledge, other people usurp stories or fragments from your life, episodes you think you've kept in a sealed chamber of your memory and yet are told by people you may not even know, people who have heard them and repeat them, modify them, adapt them according to their whim or how carefully they listened, or for certain comic or slanderous effect. Somewhere, right this minute, someone is telling something very personal about me, something he witnessed years ago but that I probably ...more
Linda
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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."

"I don't believe it's true what they say, that as you travel you become a different person. What happens is that you grow lighter, you shed your obligations and your past, just as you reduce everything you possess to the few items you need for your
...more
Carolinecarver
I'm one hundred pages into this and it is not easy. But his idea of travel appeals to me, and the images from the train and glimpses of life are compelling. Not a traditional novel, more like short stories and stream-of-consciousness, but whose? This is a book club selection; I need some questions to focus on because I am not sure what I am looking for. It is thought-provoking and the characters convey the feeling of loss and absurdity brought on by totalitarian regimes quite well. It leaves the ...more
Mara
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Haunting, beautiful, and melancholy. Sepharad is a novel of interwoven short stories that explore themes of homeland, exile within and across borders, nostalgia, travel, the Holocaust, tradition and modernity through the experiences of historical figures and fictional characters: Franz Kafka, Primo Levi, Jean Améry, Eugenia Ginzburg, the Sephardic diaspora, Spanish communists in Soviet Russia, deracinated Andalusians in Madrid. A tour de force that tells the stories of all those who live out of ...more
Brigette
Jan 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best novels I have ever read. The writing is absolutely gorgeous, intelligent, often melancholy, at times erotic, and with a keen sense of history. It's a large canvas he's working with--the diaspora of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain. Much of the focus, though, is on the tumultuous first half of the 20th century--specifically the Russian revolution, World War II, and Spain. The way he weaves time is simultaneously hypnotic and stimulating.
Dan Petegorsky
I didn’t find this nearly as compelling as it might have been, largely because the narrative style just wasn’t to my taste. There is so little dialogue in the novellas, so little that takes place in the time or place in which it occurred. Most consist of reflections on reminiscences of distant events and frequently unnamed characters. No doubt this displacement reflects the sense of diaspora Molina wishes to convey, but it had the effect of distancing me from the characters as well.
susan
Oct 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just started reading this book. I loved reading the writer's musings about travel and what travel teaches us. The comments about travel and especially train travel resonated deeply with me. I was filled with longing for the city of Madrid after reading only a few pages. I think the writing style is what most appeals to me. It is not difficult for me to read the Spanish, although the stories skip around at random, a lot like how my brain works.
Bbjoe
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I gave this a full 5 stars only because I can't give it 6. One of the best books I've read hands down. I think the best way to experience this book is not know what to expect. I will say that it took me a while to understand and link things together; I was a little lost at first, but when it clicked - Wham!

Jody Brackman
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most interesting books I have ever read. Never mind his fabulous writing style, but the window into a Jewish man's life in the 20th century, and the history that brought him and his family full circle from Spain, to Communist Russia, and eventually to New York. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Elizabeth Pergam
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful and moving stories of exile and persecution. The recurring trope of a story-telling figure in many of these individual episodes reminds us that the best fiction is rooted in memory, imagination and empathy.
Rachaelbg Bertos Haviland
I'm putting this one on hold for a little while- I just can't get into it. I keep putting it down, forgetting about it, then re-reading the first chapter to remember the character's etc. It's one I want to read, though, so I'll try again in a few weeks.
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Antonio Muñoz Molina is a Spanish writer and, since 8 June 1995, a full member of the Royal Spanish Academy. He currently resides in New York City, United States. In 2004-2005 he served as the director of the Instituto Cervantes of New York.
He was born in the town of Úbeda in Jaén province.
He studied art history at the University of Granada and journalism in Madrid. He began writing in the 1980s
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“Eres cada una de las personas diversas que has sido y también las que imaginabas que serías, y cada una de las que nunca fuiste, y las que deseabas fervorosamente ser y ahora agradeces no haber sido.” 4 likes
“Nunca soy más yo mismo que cuando guardo silencio y escucho, cuando dejo a un lado mi fatigosa identidad y mi propia memoria para concentrarme del todo en el acto de escuchar, de ser plenamente habitado por las experiencias y los recuerdos de otros.” 2 likes
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