Jonathan Levi

Author of
  • Septimania
    Overlook Press, 04/16

Jonathan Levi is a co-founder and former US Editor of Granta magazine and the author of the novel A Guide for the Perplexed. His plays and librettos for musicals and operas have appeared in the United States and Europe, where he has also recorded and performed as a jazz violinist. He currently lives in Rome.

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Septimania opens in the loft of a church outside Cambridge, England on an idyllic spring afternoon in 1978, where a young organ tuner named Malory loses his virginity to an even younger dyslexic math genius named Louiza. When Louiza disappears, Malory follows her trail to Rome. There he discovers he is the heir to the Kingdom of Septimania, given by Charlemagne to the Jews of 8th-century France. In the midst of a Rome reeling from the kidnappings and bombs of the Red Brigades, Malory is crowned King of the Jews, Holy Roman Emperor and possibly Caliph of All Islam.

Over the next 50 years, Malory’s search for Louiza leads to encounters with Aldo Moro, Pope John Paul II, a band of lost Rumanians, a magical Bernini statue, Haroun al-Rashid of Arabian Nights fame and an elephant that changes color, a shadowy U.S. spy agency and one of the 9/11 hijackers, an appleseed from the original Tree of Knowledge and the secret history of Isaac Newton and his discovery of a Grand Unified Theory that
explains everything. But most of all, Septimania is the quest of a Candide for love and knowledge, and the ultimate discovery that they may be unified after all.

SEPTIMANIA (Unimaginable) with Iva Bittova [Book Trailer]

Praise for Septimania

Septimania is a love story, a country, a novel of wild and rich imagination. For Levi, for his Jews, his Catholics, his Arabs, and even the Scientists of his creative universe, all roads lead to Rome. There is a lyricism to Levi’s writing that is sometimes religious, sometimes profane, but always musical.

A.B. Yehoshua

A masterpiece: a rule-bending, category-smashing, delightful work of brilliance that combines history and longing and religion and timelessness with good old-fashioned story-telling. World Literature: Meet Mr. Levi. Mr. Levi: Why did we have to wait so long for your fiction?

Bill Buford, author of Heat and Among the Thugs

Levi's fable of love, religion and physics dances with a spirited and lambent invention, rendered in precise and often lyrically beautiful prose.

Owen Sheers, author of I Saw a Man and Resistance

Septimania is like a liberal arts degree in novel form: It strives to show the interrelated natures of all things while delving into the details of what drives us apart.

Washington Independent Review of Books

As readers near the final pages of this phenomenal novel, they will find it impossible to accept that they must part with these character’s stories. But once the ending arrives, readers will close Septimania with the newfound excitement that is born again by lusting to reread Malory’s adventure once more, or twice, or maybe infinitely over and over again.

Alma Bašić, Cultured Vultures

A thoroughly intellectual postmodern fable, wise yet melancholy, meant to be read slowly and savored.

Kirkus Reviews
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