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Episode Info: There are books that remain with you over time, that spark the imagination and echo down the years of your life. I read The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon by Richard Zimler in the late 1990s around the time I read The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco while I was studying Theology at Oxford, which I talked about in episode 12. The themes and characters of those two books still resonate in my own writing, and the idea of faith soaking into the very stones of a place is something that stays with me as I travel for my own book research. When I visited Lisbon in autumn 2019, I wrote an article about my weekend there and mentioned Richard’s book, so I’m thrilled to be able to share this interview with you today. His books span the history of a Jewish family across the diaspora, as well as historical fiction set in the time of Jesus, and more modern tales of people of faith. Our discussion, like his writing, is both political and religious and hopefully will spark thoughts around your own position, for only by truly listening to others can we formulate what we really think. Richard Zimler is the multi-award-winning author of 10 novels, as well as writing poetry, short film, children’s books, and song lyrics. Richard is American but lives in Portugal and in 2017, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by the city of Porto. Why Richard loves Portugal, from the varied geographic regions to progressive politics How difficult times call us to be more honest and authentic The influence of Portugal on language and culture worldwide The historical research required for a novel set in the time of Jesus How places become imbued with emotion and faith Transcending historical baggage to write and travel with an open mind Writing from the different perspectives of varied characters You can find Richard Zimler at Transcript of the interview Joanna Penn: Richard Zimler is the multi-award-winning author of 10 novels, as well as writing poetry, short film, children’s books and song lyrics. Richard is American but lives in Portugal. And in 2017 he was awarded the medal of honor by the city of Porto. Welcome to the show. Richard Zimler: Thank you for having me. Hello everybody. Joanna Penn: I was having a little fangirl moment before we started recording. I’m just so thrilled to have you on the show! Clearly you love Portugal. As an American, tell us why Portugal still inspires you after so many years. Richard Zimler: It’s my home, first of all. I’ve lived here for 29 years, so most of my friends are here. My life partner is here. We’ve lived together for 40 years. So it really is the center of my world, and I’m glad about that. I love Portugal. It’s become a better and better place to live, for people visiting and for people who live here. It’s got a lot of pluses. One would be it’s a small country. We’re not talking about the United States or Brazil, so you can drive from the top to the very bottom in about seven hours. It’s a varied place...
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