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Incognito: Journey of a Secret Jew book coverIncognito: Journey of a Secret Jew

by María Espinosa

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Paperback Original, 190 pages

Alfonso, a native of Cadiz, learns at the age of thirteen that certain members of his family have remained secretly faithful to their Jewish roots. It is a time of ruthless persecution of Spanish Jews under the newly established Inquisition. As a young child, Alfonso had watched the Jews leave Spain under the general expulsion of 1492. Raised as a Catholic, and endowed with a mystical nature, the revelation of his family's Jewish roots comes as a shock. He struggles to reconcile his conflicts through the study of the Kabbala, which serves him as a bridge between the two religions.

Several years later, Alfonso falls in love with Emilia, whom his household has sheltered since her infancy — but she is whisked off to a convent the moment that their love is discovered. Alfonso goes to sea. When he returns he encounters the horrors of the Inquisition and the necessity of sudden flight from all he has known, first to Amsterdam, but eventually to Brazil.

At the core of this novel about love and exile, religious intolerance and persecution is the issue of identity and the effects of concealing one's identity in order to survive. The story is that of many Marranos. The highly perjorative term literally means "swine." Marranos were Jews who adopted a Christian identity in order to survive. They were also known as anusim, or "forced ones." Nevertheless, the term Marrano has been widely used by people of both faiths to designate undercover Jews.

Above: Eileen Malone interviews Maria Espinosa about her life and about Dying Unfinished for PEN Women.

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Read the AI [interview] with Maria Espinosa.


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Buy This Book : $17.95

ISBN 0-930324-79-X
US $17.95
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