© Hernani Pereira
Richard Zimler has a master’s degree in journalism from Stanford University. He has published 10 novels over the last 19 years, including the international bestsellers, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon and The Warsaw Anagrams. His novels have been translated into 23 languages and have won several prestigious awards, including the 2009 Alberto Benveniste Prize for the best work of Jewish-themed fiction published in France. Four of Zimler’s novels – The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, Hunting Midnight, Guardian of the Dawn and The Seventh Gate – form his “Sephardic Cycle,” a group of inter-connected novels about different branches and generations of a Portuguese Jewish family.
Five of his novels have been nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, including his most recent, The Night Watchman. He has lectured on kabbalah and Sephardic history at universities, cultural centers, synagogues and bookshops in London, Paris, Sydney, New York and many other cities. Film rights for his bestselling novel The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon have now been purchased by the head of Cinemate ("Night Train to Lisbon"). The director will be Academy-award winner Bille August. Zimler’s novel The Warsaw Anagrams has sold over 70,000 copies in the USA and the UK. When he’s not writing or traveling, he enjoys gardening at his weekend house in the north of Portugal.
In the New Testament, we are told that Jesus resurrected a beloved friend named Lazarus from the dead. Yet the Gospel of John – which contains this episode – does not tell us how Jesus accomplished this miracle or if he had a special purpose for saving his companion. The Gospel of John offers us only two more important details about Lazarus: that his notoriety attracted crowds to Jesus’ appearances and that he found himself menaced by Annas, a former High Priest of the Temple. The revived man’s fate clearly became tied to that of Jesus, who, because of his political and spiritual activism, had also earned the wrath of Annas and his son-in-law Caiaphas, the current High Priest. For what purpose did Jesus revive his dear friend? How will the events of Passion week affect Lazarus’ unique understanding of Jesus’ purpose, as well as test their friendship and love? In The Gospel According to Lazarus, Richard Zimler narrates this mysterious and influential story from Lazarus’ own point of view. His impeccably researched novel reveals itself in alluring layers, and his intensely moving exploration of Jesus’ final week from the point of view of his childhood friend adds a level of poignancy and desperation to the story that is certain to disturb some readers and greatly touch others.
Richard Zimler gives us a reinterpretation of the Bible and the ancient history of the Holy Land that is both brave and powerful!
Jornal das Letras
Provocative and daring, with the pace of a thriller… Skillfully narrated and very impressive.
Masterfully written, with a glorious exploration of redemption.
A story that offers surprises on every page and that creates in the reader the absolute need to keep turning the page. The powerful narrative is, in part, the result of Zimler’s uncanny ability to recreate a past world so compellingly.
Diário de Notícias (Portugal)
Eccentric Chief Inspector Henrique Monroe investigates the brutal slaying of a construction magnate in Lisbon. Is his murder related to the bribing of politicians? Memories of Henrique’s own troubled childhood in Colorado are triggered as he delves deeper into the possibility that the victim’s daughter was being sexually abused by her own father.
The Night Watchman is a chilling psychological mystery that explores the ongoing effects of abuse, and a sensitive portrait of contemporary Portugal.
Zimler has this spark of genius, which critics can't explain but readers recognise, and which every novelist desires but few achieve.
The Night Watchman keeps the reader absolutely riveted to the story. This is Zimler's best novel: tightly constructed, driven by realistic dialogue, and with all the action held together in a web of keen psychological insight.
The Night Watchman is an extremely ambitious and terrific book from one of the most interesting and versatile novelists around.
Nicholas Shakespeare, biographer of Bruce Chatwin
The Warsaw Anagrams is a historical thriller set in Warsaw's Jewish ghetto, magnificently written and making your hair stand on end.
When Erik's nephew Adam's lifeless body appears on the surrounding wire fence, Erik swears to avenge his murder – and brings to light the most abject perversions of the Nazi ideology. In this profoundly moving and dark thriller, Erik takes the readers into Warsaw's most forbidden territories and into the most heroic chambers of the human heart. The Warsaw Anagrams sold over 70.000 copies in the USA and the UK.
Richard Zimler has been deservedly called “an American Umberto Eco.” The Warsaw Anagrams is equal parts riveting, heartbreaking, inspiring and intelligent.
San Francisco Chronicle
Zimler surpasses himself with this epic.
Written with the effortless delicacy and subtle unnerving quality that so many readers have come to enjoy in Zimler.
The Warsaw Anagrams is simultaneously a novel of great simplicity and perspicacity.
Strawberry Fields Forever is an insightful and darkly funny coming-of-age novel telling the story of Teresa, a witty and sensitive 15-year-old whose stability and sense of identity are threatened when she is forced to move from Lisbon to the New York suburbs and has to build a new life. This crossover novel goes straight to the heart of the reader.
Zimler treats his characters with infinite compassion and sensitivity, expertly showing the complexity of human nature.
An author whose work I follow with devotion.
The Seventh Gate constitutes the fourth part of the “Sephardic Cycle”. Berlin 1932. Sophie is an intelligent fourteen-year-old coming of age. She is forced to lead a double life between her Nazi family and her Jewish friends, working against the government in a secret group called the Ring.
At the same time, she fears for the safety of her younger autistic brother Hansi. When Hansi's sterilization order comes, Sophie fights with all her ingenuity and guile to save him. In the end, however, she is forced to make a deadly betrayal.
Through successive mysteries, reversals, and surprises - and across a race against time -, The Seventh Gate is at one and the same time a love story and tragedy - and a tale of ferocious heroism.
The Seventh Gate is not only a superb thriller but an intelligent and moving novel about the heartbreaking human condition.
The Search for Sana, however, is set in our present time: At a writers' festival, Richard Zimler met the performer Sana whom he found enormously charismatic. The following evening she jumped to her death. This deeply affected him and launched him into an intense, three-year investigation of her past. He uncovered the story of a boundary-crossing friendship between two girls who grew up in Haifa in the 1950s. The Search for Sana vividly depicts the Palestinian and Israeli conflict without taking sides. Richard Zimler succeeds in integrating historical background details into the narration of an action-packed and colourful individual fate.
The third novel, Guardian of the Dawn, takes place in the early 16th century, when the Portuguese conquered the Indian province of Goa from the Sultan of Bijapur. After establishing the Inquisition, they converted tens of thousands of Hindus or immigrant Jews to Christianity. Berekiah Zarco, a Jewish manuscript illuminator, is arrested by the Portuguese Inquisition in Goa in the 16th century. Sensing he hasn’t enough strength to continue defying them while being tortured, he commits suicide. His son Tiago tries to find out who set this tragedy in motion, determined to take revenge even if it causes his own death.
Parallels with Shakespeare’s Othello are not accidental but nothing, to the smallest detail, is accidental with a writer who has fairly been called an American Umberto Eco.
An exciting adventure story... Scrupulously researched... Fascinating.
In 1989, Zimler began to publish short stories in British literary and American literary magazines. His first novel, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, became an immediate bestseller. It constitutes the first part of the “Sephardic Cycle”, a series of independent works exploring Jewish history through the lives of different generations and branches of a single family. The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon is a literary mystery set among secret Jews in Lisbon in 1506. Film rights have now been purchased by the head of Cinemate ("Night Train to Lisbon"). The director will be Academy-award winner Bille August.
In April that year, during Passover celebrations, around two thousand of Lisbon’s New Christians - Jews forcibly converted to Christianity in 1497 - were murdered in a pogrom. The story of the sequel novel Hunting Midnight is set in the early 19th century and touches on a number of issues familiar to readers of Richard Zimler, including Jewish mysticism and the forced conversion of Portuguese Jews. New, on the other hand, are the themes of African magic and slavery.
I loved The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon.
John le Carré
It’s a wonderful novel: a big, hold-hearted love story that will sweep you up and take you, uncomplaining, on a journey full of heartbreak and light.
Nicolas Shakespeare about Hunting Midnight
Visit also the author’s website:
The Gospel According to Lazarus, London: Peter Owen forthcoming 2019, 350 p.
Portugal: Porto Editore 2016, 456 p.
Best Novel of 2016 – FNAC Bookstores (22 shops in Portugal)
Best Book of 2016 – Jornal de Notícias
The Night Watchman, London: Constable & Robinson 2014, 422 p.
France: Actes Sud ● Portugal: Editora Porto 2013
Strawberry Fields Forever, London: Arcadia 2012, 220 p.
Brazil: Record 2013 ● Portugal: Dom Quixote 2011
The Warsaw Anagrams, London: Constable & Robinson 2011, 323 p.
Over 70.000 copies sold in the USA and the UK
Brazil: Record 2010 ● France: Buchet-Chastel 2013 ● Italy: Piemme 2012 ● Netherlands: Karakter 2012 ● Poland: Zysk I S-ka 2011 ● Portugal: Oceanos 2009 ● Serbia: IPS Media 2010 ● Spain: Urano ● Turkey: Inkilap 2011 ● US: Overlook Press 2011
The Seventh Gate, London: Constable & Robinson 2007, 577 p.
Brazil: Record 2014 ● Netherlands: Karakter ● Portugal: ASA 2007 ● Sweden: Lusima Böcker 2008 ● US: Overlook Press
The Search for Sana, London: Constable & Robinson 2005, 245 p.
Brazil: Relume Dumará 2007 ● France: Cherche Midi 2009 ● Portugal: Gótica 2006 ● Sweden: Lusima Böcker 2008
Guardian of the Dawn, New York: Bantam/Delacorte Press 2005, 371 p.
France: Cherche Midi 2008 ● Poland: Zysk I S-ka 2006 ● Portugal: Gótica 2005 ● UK: Constable & Robinson 2005
Hunting Midnight, New York: Bantam/Delacorte Press 2003, 499 p.
Czech Republic: Argo 2007 ● Denmark: Forlaget Ørby ● France: Cherche Midi 2006 ● Italy: Cavallo di Ferro 2006 ● Poland: Zysk I S-ka 2005 ● Portugal: Gótica 2003 ● Russia: AST 2006 ● Serbia: Laguna 2007 ● Spain: Edhasa 2007 ● Turkey: Inkilap 2004 ● UK: Constable & Robinson 2004
The Angelic Darkness, Lisbon: Quetzal 1998, 195 p.
UK: Arcadia 2000 ● US: Norton 1999
Unholy Ghosts, Norfolk: GMP Publications 1996, 255 p.
The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, Lisbon: Quetzal 1996, 313 p.
Film rights sold to Cinemate, director Bille August
Brazil: Companhia das Letras 1998, Relume Dumará 2007, Record/BestBolso 2010 ● Bulgaria: Pamet ● Croatia: Miob ● Czech Rep.: Argo 2005 ● France: Flammarion 1997 ● Germany: Rowohlt 1997; pb 1999 ● Greece: Livani 2001 ● Hungary: Sweetwater 2002 ● Israel: Penn 2002 ● Italy: Mondadori 1998 ● Japan: Jiritsu Shobo 2009 ● Lithuania: Pasvires Pasualis 2004 ● Netherlands: Bzztôh 1999, Sirene pb 2000, Karakter ● Norway: Kagge 2006, pb 2007 ● Poland: Zysk I S-ka 2003 ● Romania: Humanitas 2007● Russia: AST 2005 ● Serbia & Montenegro: Laguna 2004 ● Spain: Edhasa 1999 ● Turkey: Iletisim 2002 ● UK: Arcadia 1998, pb 2000 ● US: Overlook Press 1998
Confundir a Cidade com o Mar, Lisbon: Ozenaos 2008, 212 p.
O Cão que Comia a Chuva, Lisbon: Porto Editora 2016, 48 p.
(Ill. by Julio Pómar)
Hugo e Eu e as Mangas de Marte, Lisbon: Caminho 2011, 42 p.
(Ill. by Bernardo Carvalho)
Dança Quando Chegares ao Fim, Lisbon: Caminho 2009, 36 p.
(Ill. by Bernardo Carvalho)
Brazil: Record 2013