Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures & Languages


Malva E. Filer

Subject Categories

Jewish Studies | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Literature | Latin American Studies


Isaac Goldemberg, Jewish Literature, Peruvian Literature


The objective of this research is to study the work of Isaac Goldemberg, a Peruvian writer of Jewish roots who settled for several years in the United States. His work shows a combination of elements that reflect both his Jewish origin and his country of birth. I believe that studies of Jewish Latin American writers are scarce. They have been approached from a sociological, anthropological, religious and historical perspective, but not from a literary one. Therefore, I intend to make a literary analysis of Goldemberg's work first, and secondly, an interpretation of his Jewish identity and his transnationalism as shown on the text of his work.

While this research will focus on the literature, it is difficult to separate the literature from its history. To understand Goldemberg, we must study Latin American Jewish emigration to various countries including the United States and Israel. This wave of immigration, which occurred in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, represented a new form of coexistence between recipient countries and immigrants. Latin American Jewish immigrants encountered anti-Semitism and other difficulties in each of the recipient countries. True understanding of the narrative comes from understanding how the historical backdrop creates an edifice for the literary aspect of Goldemberg's work.

This study will cover various works of Goldemberg in which evidence of transnationalism is noted in his narrative. To do this, we will focus on the novel The Fragmented Life of Don Jacobo Lerner. The book describes the transformation of a Peruvian village, Chepén, into a Russian one, and helps us to appreciate the handling of a plot when applied to landscapes and communities. The narrative makes us travel one paragraph at a time, from one location to another, each revealing its own culture. Eventually, we as readers, forget the geographical space and focus on the characters, replete with both flaws and virtues. The explosion of emotions drives the reader away from the cultural themes and into the psyche of the characters. Goldemberg tells a story in parallel and antagonistic spaces, leading to the discovery cultural gaps are not as great as they seem, and that the similarities among every town, village, culture and country are just a matter of perception. This is the essence of transnationalism as expressed in Goldemberg's work: he unites Jewish and Peruvian cultures through the power of language.

The concept of transnationalism and Jewish identity as inherent and inseparable elements to the work of Isaac Goldemberg is further explored in his novels as Play by Play and The Great Book of Jewish America, which will help us understand acculturation processes of Jewish immigrants in Latin America, and particularly in Peru.

I will discuss the poetry of Isaac Goldemberg as a depository of Jewish influence in his literary inspiration from Peruvian culture. This can be seen clearly in his poem "Chronicles", included in his collection Peruvian Blues, which was published in the anthology La vida breve. In this poem, Goldemberg reflects a transnationalism that permeates all of his work. Goldemberg uses common ingredients of each culture, which mimic each other. These cultural ingredients are drawn from Jewish and Peruvian cultures and are sometimes a combination of the two, acknowledging that these cultures, antagonistic in appearance, live in harmony with each other. Finally, it is the author himself who says, "I was spinning my roots in the Jewish Castile of Tawantinsuyu." This verse summarizes the concept of transnationalism and Jewish identity in the works of the author. Goldemberg has the audacity to break both the official and linear chronology by not separating two dissimilar genealogies, insisting on the homologation of Jewish and Amerindians roots.

This Peruvian author has been reconciling both cultures where each of them represents an important component in his life. Goldemberg's works bring together Judaism and peruvianism in a singular and vital way. His work is solely understood by taking into account that the author has been steeped in two cultures. To try to separate his work from this fact, is like going against the very essence of his conception of life.