Author: Jack Michonik
Release Date: 25th June 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 388 pages
The year is 1926. Thousands of Jewish families are forced to flee poverty and anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. Fate takes two families to the magical continent of South America, which opens its generous arms to them. Many surprises await the immigrants in the New World. In this exciting story of their lives from their early teens in the “shtetl” to leisurely musings of middle age, we see the hardships immigrants face in the long journey to America, the complex process of adaptation to an unfamiliar environment and the phenomenal development of their businesses.
Parallel to the story of the main characters, another story emerges: that of the birth of a typical Jewish community within a Christian city. Translated from the original Spanish book, La Descendencia, The Heritage is peppered with reflections on religion and historical events of the time regarding the Jews and the state of Israel. Throughout the narrative, the author captivates us with a fascinating story of overcoming, human conflicts and addresses issues of assimilation and identity. Though not an autobiographical novel, it could be the story of the parents or grandparents of any Jew from Central or South America. The author preferred to use a fictional provincial capital of Latin American so that the reader can recognize the history of his or her own Jewish community, as all Jewish communities in Latin America came into being in an almost identical manner.
The Heritage by Jack Michonik is a heartfelt tale of the author’s Jewish community immigrating to South America in the 1920s. This book was historically enlightening and made for a great read as a real-life story. It highlighted the plight of the immigrant Jews who had to live in a country whose religion was not simply pre-dominantly Catholic but was entirely that. And to preserve their Heritage, the family had to walk on the precarious line of balancing between preserving their Jewish heritage and settling in their day to day lives in an entirely and unforgivingly Catholic town (and also setting up their business/trade on top of that.)
This book is a really gem and reading it made me understand the plight the immigrants have had to face in those times, whether Jew or not. I really appreciated the historical accuracy of the facts as well as the effort that was put into the writing of this beautiful story.
I would definitely recommend it to everyone who loves historical fiction and to the entire Jew community.
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