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One Bay One Book

Elizabeth Graver’s acclaimed novel Kantika (Henry Holt & Company, 2023) is the One Bay One Book selection for 2023-2024.

From Constantinople to Barcelona, Havana, and New York, Kantika sings of the joys, hopes, and devastation experienced by twentieth-century Sephardi emigres. Rebecca Cohen’s odyssey begins amid a settled, privileged childhood embraced by generations of well-to-do Ladino speakers. It quickly devolves through loss of home, a tragic marriage, and decrease of family cohesion. Rebecca’s indomitable resilience, good sense, and traditional values propel her across international boundaries and expectations as she becomes a thoroughly original American.

Elizabeth Graver is a professor of English at Boston College. Kantika is her fifth novel.

Read reviews from The New York Times, the Jewish Review of Books, and Lilith.

“A remarkable, lyrical work . . . Graver has written an elegant coming-of-age story that is also an epic of the Sephardi diaspora, spanning generations, wars, and continents.”
—Sarah Abrevaya Stein, Jewish Review of Books

“A gorgeous accomplishment. In intimate and inventive prose, Elizabeth Graver carries us to the vibrantly drawn streets of Constantinople and Barcelona, Havana and New York. We follow her remarkable characters through grief and hope, and into human connections as delicate as they are profound.”
—Rachel Kadish, author of The Weight of Ink

“Kantika is a beautiful, moving and splendidly entertaining evocation of a lost world. Elizabeth Graver looks back at family history with a novelist’s eye and a poet’s empathy.
—John Banville, author of Ancient Light

“In gorgeous detail, this epic family story restores a lost time and place.  Kantika is both an immigrant story and a hero’s journey as Graver’s extraordinary characters—first among them the indomitable Rebecca—travel between worlds and find ways to refashion their lives.”
 —Allegra Goodman, author of Sam

“This utterly captivating novel illuminates how one family’s history is history. Astonishing work, reminiscent, to my mind, of the best work of the great Italian writer, Elsa Morante.”
—Peter Orner, author of Still No Word From You: Notes in the Margin

“Intimately imagined, lyrically written, and rich with historical detail, Kantika weaves forced displacement, wild reinvention, and triumphant healing into a big, border-crossing family saga. Marvelous!”
—Gish Jen, author of Thank You, Mr. Nixon

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Book Groups:
Sets of Kantika are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis to book groups through our Book Club in a Box lending program. The Library also offers eBook and audiobook versions through our eBook program. For more information, please write to

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