Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Book Review - the Last Jews of Kerala

This year is going pretty smoothly, school-wise, and I find myself without a lot of blog fodder. But I have been able to get back to reading down the history aisle at the King County Library, so I thought I would do a little book report here and there.

The Last Jews of Kerala - by Edna Fernandes

I didn't really know what to expect when I picked up this book and even getting into it I wasn't sure for the first 50-60 pages. The author writes at first as if this book is a novel. It is very descriptive, and several times she tells part of a story, hints at an issue (for example when referring to the flooding that hit Cranganore) that only gets finished 50 pages later, which is kind of annoying, but I did get into the book and it ended up being really interesting.

This is the story of one of the few Jewish settlements remaining in India. What made it more interesting to me was the fact that the area being discussed is the southwestern, or Malabar, coast of India, an area that we had just finished discussing in my world history class. The author spends time with the "white" Jews of Mattencherry, the "black" Jews of Ernakulum, and finishes by spending time with Indian Jews who emigrated to the then-new country of Israel in the late 1940s.

This book reads as a wistful and nostalgic story of a group of people that have nearly disappeared, and will probably be gone completely within 50 years. As an Indian herself, the author has a lot of sympathy for the culture and history of the area, and seems to be fluent in the language spoken in the area, which for me, made reading this more interesting.

I would recommend this book, it is not particularly scholarly, but it is interesting in a quiet, meandering, philosophical kind of way.

1 comment:

Pseudo said...

I can be quiet, meandering, and philosophical at times...

Glad you are having a good SY ; -)