Translating Hannah

Ronaldo Wrobel

In 1936, Max Kutner is a Polish Jew who works as a shoe repair man in Rio de Janeiro. Fluent in Yiddish, Max is called upon by the Political Police to act as a postal censor, translating the correspondence of other Jews into Portuguese, as the dictatorial Brazilian government suspects a communist conspiracy with "semitic influence". If he refuses the task, he might be expelled from the country back to a European continent where Nazi rule cannot be stopped; if he accepts and is discovered by his community, lonely Max will be forever ostracized. Perturbed by terrible dilemmas, he falls in love with a woman he has never met, Hannah, who exchanges letters with her faraway sister in Buenos Aires, Fanny. Decided to find Hannah and propose marriage, Max Kutner discovers a real personality which is very far from the one he fell in love with through her letters. His potential for love and tenderness leads Max to an unexpected succession of events. A beautiful literary novel about identity, Translating Hannah examines the folklore of Jews in the tropics and recovers an important part of the history of the community in the New World.


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