The Last Jews of Kerala by Edna Fernandes - review by Adam LeBor

Adam LeBor

Black Vs White

The Last Jews of Kerala


Portobello Books 258pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

There’s an old joke about a Jewish passenger on a cruise ship that sinks. The passenger, let’s call him Mr Cohen, manages to swim to a nearby desert island, where he sets up home and waits to be rescued. Life is not too bad; there is a plentiful supply of food and water. Several years later another ship finally arrives. The captain asks what the two buildings on the island are. 

‘Synagogues’, replies Mr Cohen.

‘But you are alone. Why do you need two synagogues when there is only one of you?’

‘The one on the right is the synagogue that I pray in’, says Mr Cohen. ‘And the other one, I’ll never step inside.’

Sadly for the last Jews of Kerala, the joke,

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter