Eduardo Halfon

NOVEL | 2014 | 120 pages

Continuing on the search he embarked upon in El boxeador polaco and La pirueta a narrator that may or may not be Eduardo Halfon (reluctantly) travels this time to Tel Aviv for his sister’s marriage to an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn. In a city that is hostile from the moment he sets foot in it, Eduardo runs into an Israeli girl he once met in Guatemala, and as the two reconnect in unexpected circumstances, Eduardo struggles to understand his Jewish roots continuing on his pursuit to define his own identity.


A moving, reflective, and humbly resounding work of fiction. . . . Monastery, with its beautiful prose, vibrant imagery, and singular outlook on the abundance of individual and shared experience, deserves to win this year’s Best Translated Book Award. As an ambassador of both worldly wonder and sublime storytelling, Eduardo Halfon’s Monastery, despite its brevity, is truly a marvel.
— Best Translated Book Award Longlist citation
Zip[s] us around the world from Tel Aviv to rural Guatemala to New York, offering surprise and revelation at every turn.
— Reader's Digest
Intelligent and authentic.
— Jewish Book Council
Monastery, which looks at Guatemala and the world from the divided perspective of a Jew and Guatemalan [displays] a constantly surprising sensitivity, even tenderness toward both worlds and the ways they resonate even when they appear deaf to each other. . . . In the admirable translation by Lisa Dillman and Daniel Hahn, the idiomatic, contemporary American English voice comes across as innate to this cosmopolitan narrator, without losing all its Spanishness.
— The Common
Call it a confirmation bias. Everywhere I turned this year, I saw a new expression of Arab Jewish identity. The revival seems to be happening across all fields—literature, food, music—yet somehow nobody’s talking about it. . . . Imagine my excitement, then, when I discovered Eduardo Halfon’s new novel, Monastery, in which the conflicted, tragicomic protagonist denies his Arab identity when talking to certain Jews, and his Jewish identity when talking to certain Arabs.
— Forward
Halfon gives voice to a lesser-known sector of the Jewish diaspora, reminding us in the process of the ways in which identity is both fluid and immutable.
— Publishers Weekly
[A] sly, quietly penetrating account of life on the road. . . . One of [Halfon’s] special attributes is never forcing meaning on his experiences. . . . But he’s also great at reversing our initial impressions of people and places. . . . A rising star among Latin writers, Halfon is a lively traveling companion.
— Kirkus Reviews
In this enigmatic follow-up to Halfon’s lovely The Polish Boxer, readers follow the same narrator as he journeys around Central America, Europe, and Israel. . . . As if slowly filling in negative space, Halfon gradually gives shape to the uneasy relationship he has with his own allegiances and heritage as well as the outsider position he occupies wherever he goes, even within his own country. A subtle work that defies easy categorization in the best way.
— Booklist
If I were still a bookseller, I’d happily place [Monastery] in your hands and say, ‘You’ve got to read this!
— Shelf Awareness for Readers


Duelo NOVEL, 2017 Signor Hoffman STORIES, 2015 Monasterio NOVEL, 2014 Los tragadores de cosas bonitas PICTURE BOOK, 2013 Mañana nunca lo hablamos STORIES, 2011 La pirueta NOVEL, 2010 El boxeador polaco SHORT STORIES, 2008 Siete minutos de desasosiego STORIES, 2007 El angel literario NOVEL, 2005 Esto no es una pipa, Saturno NOVEL, 2004 De cabo roto STORIES, 2004