Summary Of Mois Benarroch's Andalusian In Jerusalem

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Andalusian in Jerusalem, by Mois Benarroch and translated by Enriqueta Carrington, is a strange, destabilizing novel about a writer grappling with identity and memory. The book opens with Guillermo, the narrator, recounting childhood memories, including one wherein he tells his classmates that he’s Jewish, although (to his knowledge) he isn’t. The book then transitions to present day, where Guillermo is in Jerusalem for a writers’ festival. While walking through the streets of Jerusalem, Guillermo wanders into a woman’s home, and she tells him she’s his mother, that his name is actually David (which is Guillermo’s secret name for himself) and that he died in the Lebanon War. Guillermo suddenly leaves, telling the woman he will return the…show more content…
The portion of the book that consists of Charly’s manuscript is too long. This section is necessary to support the themes of identity and memory, but partway through I found myself unsettled and felt as though I’d been abandoned by the narrator. This could be remedied by breaking the narrator’s reading of the manuscript into two parts, with a brief return to the main story halfway through. The manuscript also included quite a lot of poetry, which I began to find a little tiresome. I also found myself reacting to the book in a very unemotional way. I did not care at all about the narrator—he was not likeable, nor even especially well developed. Strangely, I was much more moved by the characters and the stories in Charly’s manuscript. Another small complaint: Charly’s manuscript delves into certain aspects of the history of Sephardi Jews. This was fascinating, but not something I was familiar with. Because this history plays such a large role in the themes that the novel explores, it might be beneficial to include a short note at the beginning of the novel to give the reader a brief background. This is a short book, but not a page-turner. It is, however, very fluid, so it’s not a difficult read. I would recommend this novel for readers who enjoy literary fiction, and it would be an excellent choice for a book club—shorter books are more likely to get read, and there would be plenty to
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