Libyan Twilight is a short memoir that chronicles the last years of Libya’s forgotten Jewish community.
As a child growing up in Benghazi, Raphael Luzon experienced the pogrom that followed the 1967 Six Day War between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan. These tumultuous events coerced Libyan Jews to abandon their homeland and seek refuge overseas, leaving over 2,000 years of history behind. Italian author Roberto Saviano’s introduction provides a concise history of the North African Jews up until their expulsion.
Shackled to his Libyan heritage, Luzon relives his time spent in Italy, Israel and London through a series of anecdotes punctuated by flashbacks to Libya’s once-vibrant Jewish community. Reminiscences aside, Libyan Twilight is essentially about one man’s quest to come to terms with the savage deaths of family members in Tripoli. While most of Libya’s Jewish community escaped, they were denied burial of their dead, and there has been no public acknowledgement of these atrocities by Libyan governments since. Luzon renders the scars of Libyan Jews visible by calling for accountability and closure.
Luzon’s fragmented narrative structure echoes the interrupted lives of Libyan Jews and their broken ties in the region. It is a poignant homage to his people’s obscured history, in a manner that challenges the monolithic cultural and religious history that marked 41 years of ex-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. What the story lacks in depth is made up for in his own emotive reminiscence and ability to confront such a complex dispute with humanity.
Darf Publishers, September 2016