Author: Richard Zimler
ISBN/UPC (if available): 987654321
Picking up where he left off in The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, Zimler tracks the travails of a young Jewish manuscript illustrator who flees with his family from Portugal to India to escape the Portuguese Inquisition in the last decades of the 16th century.
Tiago Zarco, whom his family calls Ti, is the precocious protagonist, and he and his family constantly face religious persecution, particularly when Ti's sister Sofia develops an ill-fated attraction for her cousin, a Moor nicknamed Wadi. Ti, meanwhile, has his own troubles, which revolve around his romance with Tejal, the beautiful Hindu girl he hopes to marry.
Family betrayal eventually leads to the arrest of Ti's father for his involvement with the "secret Jews," a group targeted by the Catholic authorities. Ti ends up in prison as well, but, upon his "confession" and release, he embarks on a complex mission to avenge his father.
The narrative and dialogue are occasionally melodramatic, but the historical authority in Zimler's prose is impressive, as is his surefooted plotting and formidable character writing. The riveting final chapters pick up the pace, a welcome change from the novel's overall slow burn. Still, Zimler's treatment of an obscure period of history makes for an exotic, colorful novel.