From the internationally bestselling author of The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon comes a novel of incomparable scope and beauty that takes the reader on an epic journey from war-ravaged nineteenth-century Europe to antebellum America. A bereft child, a freed African slave, and the rich history of Portugal’s secret Jews collide memorably in Richard Zimler’s mesmerizing novel--a dazzling work of historical fiction played out against a backdrop of war and chaos that unforgettably mines the mysteries of devotion, betrayal, guilt, and forgiveness.
At the dawn of the nineteenth century in Portugal, John Zarco Stewart is an impish child of hotheaded emotions and playful inquisitiveness, the unwitting inheritor of a faith shrouded in three hundred years of secrecy--for the Jews of the Iberian Peninsula have been in hiding since the Inquisition. But a season of loss and bitter discovery brings his innocence to an abrupt end. It is only the ministrations of a magical stranger, brought to Porto by his seafaring father, that restore his safety: Midnight, an African healer and freed slave, the man who will become John’s greatest friend and determine the course of his destiny.
When Napoleon’s armies invade Portugal, violence again intrudes on John’s fragile peace, and seals his passage into adulthood with another devastating loss. But from the wreckage comes revelation as he uncovers truths and lies hidden by the people he loved and trusted most, and discovers the act of unspeakable betrayal that destroyed his family--and his faith. And so his shattering quest begins as he travels to America, to hunt for hope in a land shackled by unforgivable sin.
With stunning insight and an eye for rich historical detail--from the colorful marketplaces of Porto to the drowsy plantations of the American South, from the Judaism John discovers as a young man to the mystical Africa that Midnight conjures from his memories--in Hunting Midnight Richard Zimler has crafted a masterpiece.
Richard Zimler: Midnight's Jewish Children in The Independent
Richard Zimler's first novel, about the Sephardic Jewish diaspora, was a cult bestseller. On a tour of Oporto, he tells Michael Eaude about the secrets and lies behind his new work.
Praise for Hunting Midnight
“A novel of incomparable scope and beauty that takes the reader on an epic journey from war-ravaged nineteenth-century Europe to antebellum America. A bereft child, a freed African slave, and the rich history of Portugal's secret Jews collide memorably in this mesmerizing novel -- a dazzling work of historical fiction played out against a backdrop of war and chaos that unforgettably mines the mysteries of devotion, betrayal, guilt, and forgiveness…. Zimler has crafted a masterpiece.”
—Reading Group Guides
“Zimler is always an exhilaratingly free writer, free of ordinary taboos… Hunting Midnight shows Zimler at the height of his powers. The plot is worked out beautifully.”
“Zimler, author of the unforgettable Last Kabbalist of Lisbon (1998), about the fourteenth-century massacre of Jews in Portugal, tackles an even more ambitious historical epic this time, beginning in Portugal in the eighteenth century and moving, over the next 25 years, to London, South Carolina, and New York.”
“Hunting Midnight” illuminates dark corners of history with memorable characters and a suspense-filled plot.
“Zimler's writing is pacey and accessible without ever patronising the reader. Deeply moving.”
“Zimler is an honest, powerful writer!”
“Acts of cruelty and bigotry and a shocking betrayal propel this colorful historical novel set in 18th- and 19th-century Portugal.”
“I defy anyone to put this book down. It is a wonderful novel; a big, bold-hearted love story that will sweep you up and take you, uncomplaining, on a journey full of heartbreak and light.”
“Shocking, colorful and absorbing!”
“Reading Hunting Midnight was like discovering a rare gem. Richard Zimler is a brilliant author with a touch of genius.”
—Rendevous Magazine liense (Brazil)