by Edna Fernandes - £9.99 Portobello Books (2009)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781846270994 | ISBN 10: 1846270995
Separated by a narrow stretch of swamp-like waters, and distinguished by the color of their skin, the Black Jews and the White Jews have been locked in a rancorous feud for centuries. Only now, when their combined number has diminished to less than 50 and they are on the threshold of extinction, have the two remaining Jewish communities in south India begun to realize that their destiny, and their undoing, is the same.
Living in Cochin alongside this last generation, Edna Fernandes tells their story from the illustrious arrival of their ancestors from the court of King Solomon, through their long heyday of wealth, tolerance and privilege to their present twilit existence, as synagogues crumble into disuse and weddings disappear, leaving only funerals.
"In her touching, investigative account of this fast-shrinking pocket of India’s Jewish diaspora, the British Indian journalist Fernandes uncovers the surprising source of the extinction faced by this population “cursed by no marriages, only funerals”...Fernandes movingly captures the sombre, embattled mood of this population in “countdown mode”, all too painfully aware that they “have already become a souvenir people”."
(Price & availability last checked: October 2018)