Show Menu

02 A Novel Experience

Readings

Flowers in the Blood by Gay Courter is a racy novel that is based on a murder that took place in the Jewish community in October 1858. It is the only murder trial in the Jewish community and it caused quite a stir. It was reported in the papers of the time (The Bengal Hurkuru and The Englishman). 

Leah Judah was murdered in her home on 5 Pollock Street. While many believed the dagger was thrust by Ezekiel Rahamim Shurbanee who was hired as an accomplice by Nissim Gubbay to kill his lover. However, the verdict of the trial was “Not guilty.” Most community members were convinced that they were both guilty and before leaving Calcutta to Jerusalem where he fled, Nissim agreed that he had committed the murder. He returned to Calcutta after 3 years and was shunned by the community and so he left for China. It is rumoured that he met a violent death there in an opium den in Hongkong.

(From Turning back the Pages, “Murder Most Foul”, chapter 5, pages 190 – 211. 

The Man With Many Hats by Jael Silliman, 2013

To Rachel, exuberant Morris is larger than life – he fills his home in Calcutta with wonder and excitement. As Rachel grows up, glimpses of her father’s tempestuous spirit, womanizing and bullying reveal a darker side to his character. When her family falls apart, her childhood memories collide with new realities. Rachel survives her own tragedy, and begins to reconcile the image of the father she knew with the increasingly lonely and tragic figure he has become. She comes to terms with the complexity and totality of the man with many hats.

This debut novel has the warmth and vibrance of both the City of Calcutta and its dwindling but vital Jewish community.