Historical Fiction



The Last Jew, by Noah Gordon (2000)


I had actually read this book almost exactly 6 years ago, but had forgotten. The book begins at the time of the Spanish Inquisition and the Jews are either forced out of Spain or forced to convert to New Christians, where their faith is continued to be questioned.


The novel follows young Yonah, whose older brother was murdered while delivering a valuable silver Christian article, made by his silversmith father, to the local church. The religious item is lost and the murder was unsolved.


Shortly thereafter, the Inquisitors come for the Jews and New Christians. Yonah's sibling are sent to escape Spain with distant relatives. His father is killed during a raid on the family home by Frey Bonestruca, a brutal Inquisition. Yonah is left to fend for himself. He knows he must leave his home town to escape the Inquisitors. He adopts the name Ramon Callico and begins his travels throughout Spain. Although he knows he must pose as a Christian, he privately tries to adhere to the religious of his birth, thus becomes the "last Jew" living in Spain.


Through out his travels, he learns various trades, from working on a ship, doing physical labor, becoming a shepherd, and finally, finding a mentor who teaches him to be a physician. His mentor knows Yonah/Ramon's true identity, but never betrays him. Yonah finds a home in a remote town of Spain where he practices medicine. Frey Bonestruca had been living too rich a live and, as punishment, the Church sent him to the same town where Yonah lived. Yonah must confront the man he believes killed his father.


Noah Gordon crafted a fascinating history of life in Spain during the 1500s.


Read: August 31, 2010; September 3, 2016