Rembrandt's Model

Yeshim Ternar

Ternar draws upon the turbulent history of Sephardic Jews in 17th century Amsterdam, the artistic preoccupations of the elderly Rembrandt, and the controversial convictions of the false messiah of Smyrna to create an entrancing tale. The central character of the novel, Samuel, is the man with his back to the viewer at the centre of a Rembrandt etching which depicts a group of Jewish men conversing in front of a synagogue. Ternar's expansive novel gives Samuel a face and a life history. Rembrandt's Model imaginatively suggests how the Wandering Jew—whether travelling in real life, in an etching, or in a dream—was crucial to the spiritual identity of both the Western European and Ottoman cultures. The mystery and wonder of Ternar's novel envelops us as we travel over time and place with Samuel—spanning the centuries to the present day, from Spain, to Amsterdam, to Istanbul, and to Montreal. What the critics said of True Romance with a Sailor: "A compelling collection by an impressive new writer." - Talat Sait Halman, World Literature Today "It's wry offbeatness challenged and captivated me and whetted my appetite for more." - Elaine Kalman Naves, Montreal Gazette

Fiction 1998

Read an excerpt


"Ternar's linking of two narrative threads is beautifully accomplished, and she reinforces connections across space and time with echoes and mirrors created by her poetic imagery [...] Without offering simple solutions, Ternar gathers the shards of light connecting the fates of these unforgettable characters, piecing together a compelling and timely story." -John Brooke, Montreal Review of Books

"It stands the conventions of the historical novel on their head, leavens them with magic realism and time travel, and mixed in doses of philosophy and mysticism." -Elaine Kalman Naves, Montreal Gazette

"Entertaining and thought-provoking tale for readers who are acquainted with Jewish history and mysticism." -Esther M. Price, Canadian Book Review Annual

Turkish-born Yeshim Ternar is the author of the short story collections Orphaned by Halley's Comet and True Romance with a Sailor [which was shortlisted for Mordecai Richler's 1996 Prix Parizeau, and the 1996 QSPELL Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction]. The Book & the Veil: Escape from an Istanbul Harem, a blending of essay and fiction, was described by Charles Foran in the Montreal Gazette as "daring in form and bold in intent."

Other books by Yeshim Ternar: True Romance with a Sailor
Trade paperback
176 pp 8.5" x 5.5"
ISBN13: 9781550651010

CDN $16.95
US & International
US $16.95