‘Kantika’ by Elizabeth Graver

Graver_KantikaKantika, the latest novel by Boston College Professor of English Elizabeth Graver, is a multi-generational saga of one family’s displacement across four different countries. Kantika is a genre-defying mix of personal family history and fiction, drawn from interviews Graver conducted years ago with her grandmother. The novel follows the joys and losses of Rebecca Cohen, who comes from an elite Sephardic Jewish family of early 20th-century Istanbul. The establishment of the Turkish republic and subsequent loss of the Cohens’ fortune compels them to relocate to Spain, drastically changing the life she had expected to lead. Rebecca endures a failed marriage while working as a seamstress, concealing her ethno-religious identity in a country that had expelled Jews four centuries ago and is still hostile to them. Her odyssey takes her to Cuba for an arranged second marriage, then to New York City, where she undertakes the challenge of raising—and empowering—her disabled stepdaughter. Kantika is replete with elements of the various landscapes, cultures, and languages Rebecca encounters and processes over the years as she contemplates her personal and familial identity, and how much of it will be passed along to future generations. Read more in BC News.

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