Local author Parmenter Welty has published the novel “The Tell of Targus BenAbe”, involving a Sephardic family living in Seattle. The novel is currently available at Phinney Books and Third Place Books.
Targus is the youngest in a Seattle family descended from Spanish Jews coerced by the Inquisition to convert to Christianity, flee or be killed. The story begins in 1989 when we learn of Targus’s mother’s obsession with the ancestors’ suffering and their tragic 500 year history which impacts the family. Targus’ father is not haunted by his equally compelling family history.
The family owns a bakery in Pike Place Market where a vibrant Sephardi community thrives. We get attached to Targus’s rebellious but endearing, guitar playing, weed smoking brother with his jewfro whose bar mitzvah becomes a way to protect his younger brother from bullies. We are introduced to Targus’s maternal grandparents with their fascinating Sephardi background in New Mexico and paternal grandparents who moved to Paris. Targus leaves Seattle in a coming-of-age journey, reconnects with his father who works in a bakery and teaches Hebrew in a synagogue in Paris. He lives his dream to canoe the Seine to the English Channel and eventually obtains a degree from a Parisian architecture school.
With his new degree, he moves to Deadwood, South Dakota, falls in love, and sets out to solve riddles about himself. Pursuing his passion for adobe construction, he leaves Deadwood and sets up architecture practice outside Santa Fe. Years later when his mother falls ill, he returns to Seattle where begin a series of haunting dreams after his mother’s death.
Unable to shake their beckoning, Targus goes to Jerez-de-la-Frontera in Andalusia, Spain, on a search for his Sephardi roots, leading to an epiphany where his cherished notions of “the invisible in the visible” prove more real than imagined.