What if, as David William Foster poses in his introduction to Brazilian author Moacyr ScliarÆs novel, the Germans did choose to invade the Americas in the second World War? What if the Luftwaffe did plan to bomb American cities?
Wartime residents of BrazilÆs populous urban areasùwhere Scliar himself grew up in the 1940sùsurely asked themselves those same questions. And immigrant Jews, clustered in the Bom Fim neighborhood of BrazilÆs third-largest city, had reason to wonder even more than others.
With playful irony, homage to the Jewish folktale, a touch of magical realism, and keen insight into the customs and characters of this Yiddish-speaking melting pot, Scliar spins a fable of an imaginary war waged by the youngsters of Bom Fim. Brothers Nathan and Joel and their gang defend their quarter against a pretend German military invasion, while their parents deal with the quarrels and worries of the adult world. But which is more real? In ScliarÆs richly layered fantasy Carnival and Pesach, Nazi and Jew, the consumer and the consumed, the grotesque and the quotidian intermingle unexpectedly amid the kitchens and alleys of Bom Fim.
At last available to English-language readers, students, and teachers, this first novel of a master storyteller brilliantly portrays a little-appreciated segment of Latin American, and Jewish, culture.