The Disappearance: A Novella and Stories

Ilan Stavans, Author . Northwestern Univ./Triquarterly $22.95 (130p) ISBN 978-0-8101-2374-8

Distinguished Latin American author and scholar Stavans (Dictionary Days ; Spanglish ) explores the Diaspora of Jewish Mexico in this slight but thoughtful collection. The title story concerns the obituary of Belgian actor Maarten Soëtendrop, who gained notoriety some years before by orchestrating his fake Fascist Youth League kidnapping. The narrator comes upon Soëtendrop's obituary by way of his childhood friend Yosee, now a lawyer specializing in Holocaust reparation cases, and whose obsession with the actor boils down to his theory of the Jew's chronic instability in exile. The novella, Morirse esta en hebreo , takes place during a week of sitting shivah at the home of Moishe Tartakovsky, a prominent Mexico City businessman, while a heated presidential election rages outside. Through the different sides of Moishe that emerge from his relatives' idle, grieving comments, the author suggests the Jew is an actor in a strange land—indecipherable and contradictory. "Xerox Man" traces the crimes of Reuben Staflovitch, a fanatical Argentinean Orthodox Jew who believes he can unleash divine chaos in New York City by destroying ancient documents after photocopying them. These provocative stories read almost like newspaper dispatches, conveying facts and stopping short of analysis. Fans of Stavans's expansive body of work won't be disappointed. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/12/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 130 pages - 978-0-8101-5192-5
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