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When young Rolando Perez falls to his death from a cliff outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, the mysteries immediately begin to accumulate. Was he pushed or did he jump? What are the documents that Rolando was willing sacrifice himself to protect from his family, the police, and the Catholic Church? And what does a colorful concha pastry have to do with any of this? In the midst When young Rolando Perez falls to his death from a cliff outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, the mysteries immediately begin to accumulate. Was he pushed or did he jump? What are the documents that Rolando was willing sacrifice himself to protect from his family, the police, and the Catholic Church? And what does a colorful concha pastry have to do with any of this? In the midst of the investigation, Professor Ilan Stavans arrives in Santa Fe to give a lecture about the area's long-buried Jewish history. He's looking forward to relaxing afterwards with an evening of opera, but his presentation on "crypto-Jews" attracts unexpected attention, and soon Ilan is drawn into a desperate race to find the long-lost documents that might hold the key to Rolando's death. Ilan's detective work leads him to taco joints, desert ranches, soaring cathedrals, and, finally, deep into the region's past, where he encounters another young man: Luis de Carvajal, aka "El Iluminado," a sixteenth-century religious dissenter. In a tale of martyrdom that eerily echoes Rolando's, Carvajal fled Spain for colonial Mexico at the height of the Spanish Inquisition, searching for his religious heritage -- a hunt for which he, like Rolando, would pay the ultimate price. In El Iluminado, esteemed literary critic Ilan Stavans and author and illustrator Steve Sheinkin present a secret history of religion in the Americas, showing how thousands of European refugees have left a trail of ghostly footprints -- and troves of mysteries -- across the American Southwest.


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When young Rolando Perez falls to his death from a cliff outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, the mysteries immediately begin to accumulate. Was he pushed or did he jump? What are the documents that Rolando was willing sacrifice himself to protect from his family, the police, and the Catholic Church? And what does a colorful concha pastry have to do with any of this? In the midst When young Rolando Perez falls to his death from a cliff outside Santa Fe, New Mexico, the mysteries immediately begin to accumulate. Was he pushed or did he jump? What are the documents that Rolando was willing sacrifice himself to protect from his family, the police, and the Catholic Church? And what does a colorful concha pastry have to do with any of this? In the midst of the investigation, Professor Ilan Stavans arrives in Santa Fe to give a lecture about the area's long-buried Jewish history. He's looking forward to relaxing afterwards with an evening of opera, but his presentation on "crypto-Jews" attracts unexpected attention, and soon Ilan is drawn into a desperate race to find the long-lost documents that might hold the key to Rolando's death. Ilan's detective work leads him to taco joints, desert ranches, soaring cathedrals, and, finally, deep into the region's past, where he encounters another young man: Luis de Carvajal, aka "El Iluminado," a sixteenth-century religious dissenter. In a tale of martyrdom that eerily echoes Rolando's, Carvajal fled Spain for colonial Mexico at the height of the Spanish Inquisition, searching for his religious heritage -- a hunt for which he, like Rolando, would pay the ultimate price. In El Iluminado, esteemed literary critic Ilan Stavans and author and illustrator Steve Sheinkin present a secret history of religion in the Americas, showing how thousands of European refugees have left a trail of ghostly footprints -- and troves of mysteries -- across the American Southwest.

30 review for El Iluminado: A Graphic Novel

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emilia P

    EXCUSE ME. Why did nobody tell me about this book?!? It is exactly right up my alley in a number of ways. The most important being, Steve Sheinkin comics!! As you may know or may have conveniently forgotten, Rabbi Harvey's Yiddish tales semi-awkwardly transferred to the Wild West are some of my favorite comic books on the earth, and I thought, since he seems to be doing serious young people's non-fiction these days, no comics involved, that he was out of the comics biz altogether. I am relieved EXCUSE ME. Why did nobody tell me about this book?!? It is exactly right up my alley in a number of ways. The most important being, Steve Sheinkin comics!! As you may know or may have conveniently forgotten, Rabbi Harvey's Yiddish tales semi-awkwardly transferred to the Wild West are some of my favorite comic books on the earth, and I thought, since he seems to be doing serious young people's non-fiction these days, no comics involved, that he was out of the comics biz altogether. I am relieved that it is not so, and this is a perfect fit for him -- a little mystery that serves as a frame for a history of crypto-Jews in the American Southwest. What are crypto-Jews? They are Jews who were forced to convert (in this case in Spain during the Inquisition) but remained Jewish in their private lives and passed traditions on through generations that didn't quite make sense and sort of took on a new spirit through that blurry transmission. It's a real, weird thing. The mystery plot is sort of a small-scale DaVinci-Code-esque thing, but not so eye-rollingly silly, and the history plot is pretty heavy stuff about religious persecution, but it's all very well and compellingly presented. I honestly did not want to put it down. And Steve's illustration efforts here are a little more precise than Rabbi Harvey (New Mexico! Actual location scouting!) but still endearingly squiggly and simple. Basically, it was fun, and moving, and educational, and even a little funny. And that is about as good as it gets. I'm sure being fascinated by the subject matter helped my opinion tremendously, but, still, it's quite surprisingly good.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Maas

    A fun and informative mystery, but be warned, it has its own style This book was a lot of fun. It follows a professor who is tracing the origins of crypto-jews, Jews whose origins were obscured during the Inquisition after their ancestors went into hiding. They passed their secret identity down through the generations, and it ends up as a mystery. Ilan Stevens is like Dan Brown, but his tales are just a little cuter. The professor lectures more, and the edges are a little softer. So expect long rec A fun and informative mystery, but be warned, it has its own style This book was a lot of fun. It follows a professor who is tracing the origins of crypto-jews, Jews whose origins were obscured during the Inquisition after their ancestors went into hiding. They passed their secret identity down through the generations, and it ends up as a mystery. Ilan Stevens is like Dan Brown, but his tales are just a little cuter. The professor lectures more, and the edges are a little softer. So expect long recitations of history from the main character, interspersed with an intentionally over the top plot. If you expect that, you'll like it. If not, you might want to read it anyway, because there is some real history here. In any case, I recommend it!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    It is hard to believe there would be a huge market for this book, but I liked it, nevertheless. It's a book about a Mexican-American Latin American Studies Prof (at Amherst), and he calls it a GN, but it is hard to tell if it is all true... it's about a scholarly pursuit/whodunnit. A scholar gives a lecture in Santa Fe on the Crypto-Jewish folks in the southwest and he encounters people who do and do not want him to research this there. By crypto they mean hidden; these folks lie about their Jud It is hard to believe there would be a huge market for this book, but I liked it, nevertheless. It's a book about a Mexican-American Latin American Studies Prof (at Amherst), and he calls it a GN, but it is hard to tell if it is all true... it's about a scholarly pursuit/whodunnit. A scholar gives a lecture in Santa Fe on the Crypto-Jewish folks in the southwest and he encounters people who do and do not want him to research this there. By crypto they mean hidden; these folks lie about their Judaism, out of fear of recrimination, torture, death, historically, but there is still fear of recrimination today, it seems, and still hiding. Some are "conversos" that appear to convert to Roman Catholicism but keep their Judaic faith under the radar, as some did during Nazi Germany, but Jews in the southwest predate Hitler. Apparently there are whole hidden Jewish communities in the southwest, in Mexico, but they are hard to find, still, of course. This story takes place in New Mexico and is in part about what it means to be a scholar, that curiosity and passion to know that can become an obsession, and how that obsession may be partly grounded in your own life in many ways, your own identity, your own "issues". El Illuminado is a central character in the mystery that is part of the book's story, and others may tell you more about that, but mysteries get pursued and mysteries still remain, in this book. It's beautifully and colorfully drawn, a tale told by this scholar about his work that draws you in. A good storyteller as well as scholar, this Stavans. Did I before reading this care about the topic of Jews living hidden in plain sight in the southwest? Not really, but like Stavans, and thanks to him, I get interested in the story...and these people and their historical persecution at the hands of Roman Catholics... On a personal level, I had a friend whose (Jewish) family left Germany under Hitler to move to Mexico and renounced their faith. She lived in my building in Madison... related story, obviously!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sally Sugarman

    Graphic novels are good at presenting history. Having heard the author give an outstanding lecture on Don Quiote and knowing Sheinkin’s work as an illustrator of the Rabbi Harvey graphic novels, I thought this would be an interesting book about the crypto-Jews who settled in southwestern United States. Fleeing the inquisition in Spain when Ferdinand and Isabelle took power, they immigrated to Mexico and then drifted North. The crypto-Jews were those Jews who converted to Catholicism, but retain Graphic novels are good at presenting history. Having heard the author give an outstanding lecture on Don Quiote and knowing Sheinkin’s work as an illustrator of the Rabbi Harvey graphic novels, I thought this would be an interesting book about the crypto-Jews who settled in southwestern United States. Fleeing the inquisition in Spain when Ferdinand and Isabelle took power, they immigrated to Mexico and then drifted North. The crypto-Jews were those Jews who converted to Catholicism, but retained many of their traditions such as not eating pork and lighting the menorah on Friday nights. When Stavanos goes to New Mexico to give a lecture on the history of the crypto-Jews, he finds himself embroiled in the mysterious death of a young man who had documents that he was protecting when he died. The documents have to do with Luis de Caravajal, El Iluminado, a sixteenth century religious dissenter tracing his heritage as a Jewish Catholic. There is some academic rivalry involved as various people search for the documents. Although there are flashbacks to the past and a number of dangerous encounters as Stavanas tries to elude the other searching for the documents, a great part of the book reads like a lecture without the benefit of Stavanas dynamic personality. The book is interesting in terms of shedding light on a little known group, but it is the information that takes precedence over the story telling.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jamais

    Books that depend on historical events need to remember to cater to the present. // El Iluminado: A Graphic Novel// explores the history of the Crypto-Jews, those members of the Jewish community that were lost in history due to persecution. Professor Ilan Stavans is clued in to the existence of a major link to those Jews when he decides to talk to a woman stalking him, who needs his help finding out what her brother was hiding. Together they end up uncovering a chain of evidence of what happened Books that depend on historical events need to remember to cater to the present. // El Iluminado: A Graphic Novel// explores the history of the Crypto-Jews, those members of the Jewish community that were lost in history due to persecution. Professor Ilan Stavans is clued in to the existence of a major link to those Jews when he decides to talk to a woman stalking him, who needs his help finding out what her brother was hiding. Together they end up uncovering a chain of evidence of what happened to the Jews. Although the art tends to the simplistic and exaggerated, it does ensure that characters will not be confused. The story is told mostly through exposition, with the characters in the past coming to life; early on it’s easy to care more for the characters in the past rather than the present ones. It doesn’t help that the characters lack depth, and that the present tale feels more like a framing story rather than a story on its own. As a historical tale it works rather well, but the present-day story needs a little more oomph. Otherwise it’s a fine book for those interested in a little family secret. As originally written by Jamais Jochim for http://www.portlandbookreview.com/

  6. 4 out of 5

    Scott Russell

    One of the best things about Mexican American Literature is how scholarship, story, genre and meta-fiction all overlap, all of which happens in El Iluminado. Stavans is a scholar and I’m a fan of his essays and his work in Spanglish/ ingléspañol (which comes up in El Iluminado). This is a detective story steeped in the history of Mexican/Spanish Judaism and suppressed histories and identity. The Crypto-Judaic presence in New Mexico goes back to the beginning of the colony in the late 15th centur One of the best things about Mexican American Literature is how scholarship, story, genre and meta-fiction all overlap, all of which happens in El Iluminado. Stavans is a scholar and I’m a fan of his essays and his work in Spanglish/ ingléspañol (which comes up in El Iluminado). This is a detective story steeped in the history of Mexican/Spanish Judaism and suppressed histories and identity. The Crypto-Judaic presence in New Mexico goes back to the beginning of the colony in the late 15th century. The notion of hidden history uncovered adds to the mystery of the book along with the revelation of the story of Luis de Carvajal the Younger. Stavans isn’t from New Mexico, but he, a character in the book, places himself well in relation to the subject and area. We see how people say he doesn’t “look Mexican” as he adds “In Mexico I don’t look Jewish” all of which adds to the questions of identity suppressed histories bring to fore. The title is El Iluminado because much is brought to light in this book—the search for Carvajal’s lost work (which has been found since publication), the uncovering of a murder, and the truth behind many nuevomexicanos ancestry.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lyris

    I got this book from Ilan to read before one of his lectures and when he first introduced the book as a sort of "detective story" with himself being the detective I admit I did not expect that the book would be about crypto jews, nor did I expect to finish it in one night but it was so good I had to keep reading until the end. It is clear that he is VERY passionate about the authenticity of the identities we keep, and if there are indeed non-arbitrary boundaries that can define one's identify, a I got this book from Ilan to read before one of his lectures and when he first introduced the book as a sort of "detective story" with himself being the detective I admit I did not expect that the book would be about crypto jews, nor did I expect to finish it in one night but it was so good I had to keep reading until the end. It is clear that he is VERY passionate about the authenticity of the identities we keep, and if there are indeed non-arbitrary boundaries that can define one's identify, also, of course, the constant search for truth in our lives. As Ilan always asks soo many questions, at the end of one lecture, he asked us "What makes a book great?" For me, a great book has to make me think, feel and question. This book has made me do all three throughout Ilan's (the character's) journey to find the truth, sometimes with just an obscure and brief notion was is posed. I also love the character Ilan who is pretty much identical in terms of personality and of course humour (the appearance was pretty similar too up to the Tintin hairstyle!) This book provided me with a fairly objective view on crypto jews and it was a great read!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Malcolm

    Well told and very well illustrated. The author's own character Professor Stavans is giving a lecture when the story begins and he keeps lecturing in cars and restaurants as it progresses. He manages to convey a lot of information about the Spanish Inquisition forcing Muslims and Jews underground and how a significant population of descendants of some of those Jews carried on Jewish traditions in the New World without understanding their meaning. I assume the history regarding Luis Carvajal the Well told and very well illustrated. The author's own character Professor Stavans is giving a lecture when the story begins and he keeps lecturing in cars and restaurants as it progresses. He manages to convey a lot of information about the Spanish Inquisition forcing Muslims and Jews underground and how a significant population of descendants of some of those Jews carried on Jewish traditions in the New World without understanding their meaning. I assume the history regarding Luis Carvajal the Elder and Younger is documented while the modern day story of Rolando and his shocking documents is made up as a story-telling device. The book raises interesting issues about identity and belief while entertaining the reader with fun detective stuff and Rolando's cousin Irina Rodriguez who is a really unique and interesting character.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Evelyn

    I heard about El Illuminado: A Graphic Novel at the 2016 Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference, during a panel about local graphic novels. There I learned the term crypto-Jews and the concept fascinated me. While this book didn't really give me any answers (that's kind of the point), it tells a compelling story weaving history into modern Santa Fe. It was an enjoyable read and has prompted me to read more about the repeated expulsion and migration of Jewish people, and their I heard about El Illuminado: A Graphic Novel at the 2016 Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference, during a panel about local graphic novels. There I learned the term crypto-Jews and the concept fascinated me. While this book didn't really give me any answers (that's kind of the point), it tells a compelling story weaving history into modern Santa Fe. It was an enjoyable read and has prompted me to read more about the repeated expulsion and migration of Jewish people, and their resilience.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Having just returned from Santa Fe where I spent time with many people interested in the concept and history of Crypto-Judaism, this book was a perfect choice! In fact, I would recommend this graphic novel to readers who are looking for a first introduction to the topic. It covers the bases clearly and entertainingly. I didn't love the illustration style, as the two main female characters were drawn so similarly (even wearing the same color shirt and glasses) that I really had to work to stay cl Having just returned from Santa Fe where I spent time with many people interested in the concept and history of Crypto-Judaism, this book was a perfect choice! In fact, I would recommend this graphic novel to readers who are looking for a first introduction to the topic. It covers the bases clearly and entertainingly. I didn't love the illustration style, as the two main female characters were drawn so similarly (even wearing the same color shirt and glasses) that I really had to work to stay clear on who was who. Still, I enjoyed it. Santa Fe itself is recognizably depicted. I wish I had read this before I'd gone, as it would have been cool to know about (and visit) the cemetery on Guadalupe Street.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    I love reading about Crypto-Jews, as I believe our family is one of them. This story is very interesting, as it flips from the past to the present, telling both the stories of Luis Carvajal and the modern Perez family. There is some mild swearing, in both Spanish and English, but Middle Grade and up should be fine with it. I'm adding it to my bibliography of B'nai Anousim studies. I love reading about Crypto-Jews, as I believe our family is one of them. This story is very interesting, as it flips from the past to the present, telling both the stories of Luis Carvajal and the modern Perez family. There is some mild swearing, in both Spanish and English, but Middle Grade and up should be fine with it. I'm adding it to my bibliography of B'nai Anousim studies.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Chatterton

    I was matched with this book by a "Blind Date with a Book" by my university's library. As a lover of graphic novels, I, of course, selected the book described as "Southwest historical graphic novel." I was even more delighted by the topic: crypto-Jews. Ilan Stavans' book was absolutely captivating, and it taught me about a topic I had not know anything about before. Love, love, love this book. I was matched with this book by a "Blind Date with a Book" by my university's library. As a lover of graphic novels, I, of course, selected the book described as "Southwest historical graphic novel." I was even more delighted by the topic: crypto-Jews. Ilan Stavans' book was absolutely captivating, and it taught me about a topic I had not know anything about before. Love, love, love this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Emma Probst

    This is a great book that combines a Da Vinci Code type mystery with an interesting look at Spanish Jews and their struggles amid Catholic persecution (Especially during the Inquisition). It reminds us of how history shapes the present and encourages the desire to search even when it is impossible to know everything.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Louis Corsair

    It’s Cinco de Mayo and this is a great read for it. No, it has nothing to do with Mexican Independence Day...not exactly. The main character, Stavans, is a real person who goes to Santa Fe to give a lecture on Crypto-Jews. From there he is thrown into a centuries old quest that would make Dan Brown proud. Very entertaining!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Karthika

    It takes a while to get going and build intrigue, but takes off adequately well after a point. There's a significant amount of Spanglish in the dialogues which would make it a good read for those dabbling in both languages (Spanish and English). It takes a while to get going and build intrigue, but takes off adequately well after a point. There's a significant amount of Spanglish in the dialogues which would make it a good read for those dabbling in both languages (Spanish and English).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rodrigo

    Absolutely hilarious and amusing book. It's very special when a piece of literature manages to feel educational as well as thoroughly entertaining. The art style and humor only add to the experience, I'll definitely be returning to this one. Amazing! Absolutely hilarious and amusing book. It's very special when a piece of literature manages to feel educational as well as thoroughly entertaining. The art style and humor only add to the experience, I'll definitely be returning to this one. Amazing!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Toby

    seems appropriate for middle school and up as a supplement or intro to learning about crypto Jews in the Southwest.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Steven Nordstrom

    Worth reading, especially because the main character is a professor. The story is compelling, the illustrations adequate-to-good.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    New Mexico crypto Jew story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Hooker

    Not a huge fan of the art in this one, but I am a fan of southwestern history and this is one story I had never heard of before

  21. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    The story is interesting, but the artwork is some of the worst I've ever seen. The story is interesting, but the artwork is some of the worst I've ever seen.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    DNF... But I do think this is an important story and want to boost it. I plan to research the subject but this wasn't for me. DNF... But I do think this is an important story and want to boost it. I plan to research the subject but this wasn't for me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Perlie

    A fascinating exploration of the history of conversos in the southwest. I'm more familiar with Stavans from his work on language, and enjoyed Sheinkin's "Rabbi Harvey" graphic novels; this was a surprise pairing for me. The story was interesting and kept me reading. I thought the afterward was helpful. I'd love to see more graphic novels about Jewish history and identity! A fascinating exploration of the history of conversos in the southwest. I'm more familiar with Stavans from his work on language, and enjoyed Sheinkin's "Rabbi Harvey" graphic novels; this was a surprise pairing for me. The story was interesting and kept me reading. I thought the afterward was helpful. I'd love to see more graphic novels about Jewish history and identity!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cynda

    A graphic historical novel that kept my interest. I know that both crypto-Jews and conversos came to New World. I did not know about a particular group in New Mexico. Interesting, enjoyable, but not particularly rememberable.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dev

    I read this book for my Multicultural Resources for Diverse Communities class. Stavans, I. & Sheinkin, S. (2012). El iluminado: A graphic novel. New York: Basic Books. Hardcover | $24.99 | ISBN-13: 978-0-465-03257-0 | 208 pages | Grades 10+ - Graphic Novel What happens when you grow up thinking you’re Catholic only to find out that your ancestors were Jews? El Iluminado is the story of a family and a town who must answer exactly this question. El Iluminado is a historical mystery not because it’s se I read this book for my Multicultural Resources for Diverse Communities class. Stavans, I. & Sheinkin, S. (2012). El iluminado: A graphic novel. New York: Basic Books. Hardcover | $24.99 | ISBN-13: 978-0-465-03257-0 | 208 pages | Grades 10+ - Graphic Novel What happens when you grow up thinking you’re Catholic only to find out that your ancestors were Jews? El Iluminado is the story of a family and a town who must answer exactly this question. El Iluminado is a historical mystery not because it’s set in the past—which it isn’t—but because the present-day mystery hinges on historical events. The story begins with Rolando Perez, a boy who is pushed off a cliff by a mysterious woman who is trying to lay claim to documents he has found which link his family to Luis de Carvajal the Younger, a crypto-Jew who immigrated to Mexico from Spain in the sixteenth century to escape the Spanish Inquisition. When Professor Stavans visits Santa Fe, New Mexico to give a lecture on crypto-Jews, he ends up assisting Rolando’s sister in the quest to find the mysterious documents and the killer who wanted to capture them. El Iluminado is a book about identity. At the heart of the murder mystery lies the question of whether the Rodriguez family is descended from crypto-Jews, or Jews who converted to Christianity to escape expulsion from Spain during the Inquisition only to continue to practice Judaism in secret. Rolando embraces this idea as an explanation for the odd customs he grew up with, but it threatens both his priest brother and Santa Fe at large. The peculiarities of identity are also seen in Professor Stavans, a Mexican Jewish immigrant who discusses both how other people identify him based on his appearance and how he identifies based on where he lives. One interesting aspect of the book is its use of “Spanglish,” or sentences that combine both English and Spanish. The prevalence of this serves as a reminder of the shared Latino roots of the characters, even though Professor Stavans looks more like an Ashkenazi Jew than a man who grew up in Mexico. Unfortunately, there is no translation or glossary of Spanish terms in the book, which can make it hard for those who don’t speak Spanish to understand the text without a dictionary or translation website. El Iluminado is a good pick for a public library or high school that serves a population which includes Spanish-speakers. This book will be particularly useful for Spanish-speakers who are learning English, as the large amounts of Spanish in the text could make such readers feel a bit more comfortable reading a majority English text. El Iluminado would also make an interesting addition to a class learning about the Spanish Inquisition, due to its treatment of crypto-Jews and the lasting effects of the Inquisition.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan Eubank

    Here are the questions we discussed at the Reading the Western Landscape Book Club at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. • How is the story enhanced or changed by the graphic novel form? • What’s did you think about the academic rivalry? • Why is it so dramatic or forbidden to learn the history? Why didn’t Irina give Ilan the evidence? • Why is the graduate assistant carrying a gun? • Did you perceive truth in the story? Why/Why not? • Do the illustrations add to your understanding of Here are the questions we discussed at the Reading the Western Landscape Book Club at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden. • How is the story enhanced or changed by the graphic novel form? • What’s did you think about the academic rivalry? • Why is it so dramatic or forbidden to learn the history? Why didn’t Irina give Ilan the evidence? • Why is the graduate assistant carrying a gun? • Did you perceive truth in the story? Why/Why not? • Do the illustrations add to your understanding of the landscape? • Were you able to understand the religious references? Why? Why not? • What was your reaction to the broader philosophizing such as the questions about what is a home? • Why did the author use this medium to tell the story? • What reaction did you have to all of the hidden lives?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark Bellerophon

    A quirky but academic exploration of living history, a possible murder mystery, and seemingly wild-goose chase all rolled into one. Stavans' himself is the main character in "El Iluminado" as he finds himself unintentionally in the middle of a mystery surrounding the death of a native of the town Stavans is visiting for a guest lecture (and night at the opera); and then later involved in frantic search by multiple parties for possible documents that the dead man (Rolando) had, the discovery of w A quirky but academic exploration of living history, a possible murder mystery, and seemingly wild-goose chase all rolled into one. Stavans' himself is the main character in "El Iluminado" as he finds himself unintentionally in the middle of a mystery surrounding the death of a native of the town Stavans is visiting for a guest lecture (and night at the opera); and then later involved in frantic search by multiple parties for possible documents that the dead man (Rolando) had, the discovery of which could be a Pandora's box genealogically linking the crypto-Jew Luis de Carabajal the Younger to residents of the town where Rolando lived. This graphic novel was a nice little read and history lesson about a topic which few people know much about--the history of crypto-Jews and Carabjal--and, while not much of a "mystery" mystery, it still keeps the reader intrigued enough to finish the story to its proper conclusion.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ciro

    If your into fictional crime and mystery, you'll love this book. Some parts are written in Spanglish, but you won't get lost if you can't read Spanglish so don't worry. The book opens with an unknowing professor who stumbles upon the mysterious death of a descendant of crypto-Jews, an underground community of Jewish people who went into hiding during the inquisition and have since then travelled as refugees in disguise struggling to avoid persecution while maintaining their identity as Jews. Sur If your into fictional crime and mystery, you'll love this book. Some parts are written in Spanglish, but you won't get lost if you can't read Spanglish so don't worry. The book opens with an unknowing professor who stumbles upon the mysterious death of a descendant of crypto-Jews, an underground community of Jewish people who went into hiding during the inquisition and have since then travelled as refugees in disguise struggling to avoid persecution while maintaining their identity as Jews. Surrounding his death are hidden documents which may contain very important information regarding this underground history while a wide array of shady characters compete with the professor to find them first. This is a fun read with plenty of mystery and intrigue that draws you in as you read. Artwork is a bit simplistic however, it does well at narrating the story. Even still, I think it could have used a little more finesse with handling an anatomical and perspective fundamentals.

  29. 4 out of 5

    M.H.

    The art is deceptively crude, but this book is anything but simple. It's light and accessible, but deals with some very weighty subject matter. It ironically turns the history and mystery of the crypto-jews of Mexico and New Mexico into a Davinci Code-ish hunt around Santa Fe, where-in a mild-mannered professor who just happens to have all the arcane knowledge to hand happens to be in the right place at the right time in order to follow a series of cryptic clues left by a murdered man. This iron The art is deceptively crude, but this book is anything but simple. It's light and accessible, but deals with some very weighty subject matter. It ironically turns the history and mystery of the crypto-jews of Mexico and New Mexico into a Davinci Code-ish hunt around Santa Fe, where-in a mild-mannered professor who just happens to have all the arcane knowledge to hand happens to be in the right place at the right time in order to follow a series of cryptic clues left by a murdered man. This irony works. It almost playfully reveals the past even as it moves to a solution. My only reservation is that perhaps the tone is too light. It was respectful, but since the history involved true stories of violent, oppressive religious persecution, the Inquisition, and antisemitism, all so effective that the repercussions are still felt in the present, perhaps it should have been a bit more serious.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marie

    the subject of this graphic novel contains two parellel stories. the 1st being of crypto-jews (jews who back in the spanish inquistion who converted but still in secret practiced their faith was intresting. the secondary story concerning the matter of a murder and missing papers was not as intresting. althrough the story in itself was good the drawings were flat and not very appealing. i felt that this graphic novel dragged on for far to long. the conclusion was not such a surprise yet frustrati the subject of this graphic novel contains two parellel stories. the 1st being of crypto-jews (jews who back in the spanish inquistion who converted but still in secret practiced their faith was intresting. the secondary story concerning the matter of a murder and missing papers was not as intresting. althrough the story in itself was good the drawings were flat and not very appealing. i felt that this graphic novel dragged on for far to long. the conclusion was not such a surprise yet frustrating in nothing was reveled concerning the lost papers that caused a lot of trouble. sad to say this book should have stuck with the history part instead of the suspense. would have been quite helpful if in the back was a translation of the spanish words used in the book for people like me who don't read the language.

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