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Book Reviews

The Letters That Never Came

"The Letters that Never Came" is an autobiographical novel in three parts that reflects Rosencof’s life growing up in 1930s Uruguay as the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants and, later, his twelve-year imprisonment during the military dictatorship his country suffered.

The Letters That Never Came

The Letters That Never Came

Author: Mauricio Rosencof, Louise Popkin (Translator), Ilan Stavans (Introduction)

120 pp. Texas Tech University Press

Part I is a rich evocation of life in Montevideo in the mid-1930s as seen through the eyes of young Moishe. Every day, Moishe’s father waits for the postman, hoping for news of his family, who are prisoners of the Nazis. Interspersed among Moishe’s reminiscences are the letters those relatives might have written—but never came.

In Part II, Moishe is imprisoned in the dungeons of the military junta that governed Uruguay in the 1970s and 1980s. Tortured and starving, he takes refuge in the world of his imagination, composing another letter that never came—a letter to his father that embodies his own quest for identity.

Part III is largely a meditation on the redemptive power of the word, real and imagined. This poignant, humane work, as Uruguayan and Jewish as it is universal, links the cruelty of the Holocaust to that of the Uruguayan military and the resistance of Hitler’s victims to his own.


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