The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon ~ by Richard Zimler

This book has a really slow start but eventually it gets past the background situation and the Jewish situation and zones in on the first person protagonist,  Berekiah Zarco,  a Jew living in Lisbon in the early 1500s.   This time,  April of 1506,  was the time of a huge Jewish purge so life was very difficult for the small group of forcibly  “converted” Jews in Alfama,  the Jewish quarter in Lisbon.    Berekiah explains his  life for awhile with emphasis on the Jewish aspects.  But one day during a bloody rampage,  he finds his beloved Uncle Abraham murdered and there is a young girl next to him,  dead and naked.

The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon
by Richard Zimler
1996 (Portugal) 318 pages 
read by Stephen Rudnicki  13h 28m 
Rating:  B /  historical crime 

Berekiah is now on the hunt for the murderer of his uncle who was also his religious mentor, guide and advisor.  Many characters are horrified and there are many suspects whom he investigates by following and questioning.  Berekiah questions everyone.   Much of the book is concerned with Jewish mysticism and other aspects of the Kabbalah.   I’m sure I missed a lot.

There is also quite a lot of information about the history of the Kabbalah and if you’re interested in that and willing to spend some time with it,   it’s a fine book,  but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not.


18th century Alfama,  the old Jewish quarter in Lisbon

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3 Responses to The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon ~ by Richard Zimler

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    I’ve been to Lisbon, and it’s a lovely place though a terrible lot of graffiti is ruining some of its lovely old buildings…
    But, correct me if I’m wrong, I think the whole city was levelled by an earthquake in 1755 so the buildings in your lovely photo might not be buildings from the 16th century.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I think you’re right. And i have to admit I just grabbed what looked like a good old picture. It felt like it could hold a lot of mystery. My opps.


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