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Ligia Ravé


“A compelling and provocative tale.

Jewish Book World

“A fascinating and highly recommended read.

Small Press Bookwatch

Since medieval times, all first-born members of the Ravayah family have journeyed to Hanah’s Paradise, a mystical place in the Galilee. There they have recorded their life stories in the family archives—chronicles that now hold 800 years of writings, drawings, recipes, and music from every corner of the world, a microcosm of the history of the Jewish people.

Now Salomeia Ravea, a young immigrant from Romania, arrives to join her grandfather and take over the job of keeping the chronicles. With pain and wonder, she unearths tales of long-ago relatives like Don Simeon, a poetic young man forced to live as a Christian in Portugal during the Inquisition. She also learns what happened to her own parents during the Holocaust—traumatic events they have long hidden from her. Salomeia’s discoveries, along with the current conflicts in Israel, propel this novel to its surprising conclusion.

Ligia Ravé, who received a doctorate in art history from the Sorbonne, moved to the United States in 1982. An architect and a scholar, she has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and at Tulane University, where for a decade she was the Henry Luce Professor of Architecture and Society.

316 pages, 2009
paperback / $14.95 / ISBN 978-0-9788636-3-0
e-book / $9.99 / ISBN 978-0-9788636-5-4


“Like Scheherazade, the narrator of Ligia Ravé’s beautifully rendered novel, Hanah’s Paradise, has to tell stories—in this case her family’s stories—in order to keep memory alive. Primarily, the memories are of suffering, displacement and loss. Only in Hanah’s Paradise, a magical, mystical place in northern Israel, where the history of this far-flung Jewish family is recorded in letters, recipes and songs, can happiness be found. However, this happiness, too, is only temporary—Jews are fated to wander the world, as the patriarch of the family comes to understand. A branch of flowering bamboo will be the sole reminder of their lost paradise. Told in wonderful, vibrant language, the tale of the Ravayah family has the magical, almost dreamlike quality of a Márquez story, only this story has taken over a thousand years to tell and there is, as yet, no end to it.”

Lily Tuck, author of Heathcliff Redux and The News from Paraguay, winner of the 2004 National Book Award

“An epic of faith and family, Hanah’s Paradise spans one of the more eventful millennia of Jewish history. Ligia Ravé writes with passion, wisdom and a profound knowledge of the way the past tugs at the heartstrings of the present moment.”

Ken Kalfus, author of 2 A.M. in Little America

Hanah’s Paradise by Ligia Ravé is a striking first novel, layered with Jewish stories. A braid of history, mythology and memory, the narrative follows a Sephardic family, now scattered around the world, over five centuries beginning with the Inquisition. In every branch of the family, tradition required the firstborn to visit Hanah’s Paradise in Israel’s Galilee. In this mystical garden that serves as family archive, relatives have recorded their life stories, whether fragments of memoir, poetry, art, recipes or songs, each in his or her own dialect, chiseled into pink stone and now faded by time. Some travel from far away and repair the garden walls; others plant trees; some buy adjacent land and build. Here, a young immigrant from Romania travels to Israel to help her grandfather maintain the site and discovers family tales she never knew, including her own parents’ experience during the Holocaust.”

Jewish Woman


“The novel presents a provocative theme. In being forced into exile, how have the Jewish people coped with forced conversion while remaining observant Jews? Is adaptation just an excuse or even a betrayal of one’s faith? These and other essential questions make this a compelling and provocative tale.”

Jewish Book World


The stories you hear shape who you are. Hanah's Paradise is the story of Salomenia, a young girl who comes to Hanah's Paradise and soaks in the wonderful stories of her family. Combining many unique elements, Ligia Ravé gives readers quite the original story about life through many eyes, making Hanah's Paradise a fascinating and very highly recommended read.

Small Press Bookwatch

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