Friday, February 10, 2006

Sepharad by Antonio Munoz Molina

Review of Antonio Muñoz Molina's Sepharad

"Waking from a night of fitful dreams, Gregor Samsa discovered he had been changed into a gigantic insect."
That must be the second most famous opening line in literature. It has been enshrined as a classic statement of existential angst. But for Antonio Muñoz Molina, Franz Kafka's grotesque tale of metamorphosis has a more chilling, flesh-and-blood significance. It prophetically anticipates the Gestapo, the KGB and indeed all the secret police who have found ingenious ways to make human beings cower like cockroaches under their boots.
Homage to Kafka appears in nearly every episode of his hybrid fiction- memoir-history, "Sepharad." But when Molina writes, "You are uprootedness and foreignness, not being completely in any one place, not sharing the certainty of belonging that seems so natural and easy to others, taking it for granted like the firm ground beneath their feet," he doesn't intend philosophical abstractions about modern man in search of a soul.

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