The Jewel Trader of Pegu (Paperback)

A Novel

By Jeffrey Hantover

Harper Perennial, 9780061252716, 256pp.

Publication Date: December 30, 2008

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (1/1/2008)

List Price: 14.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Fall '09/Winter '10 Reading Group List

“Forget the mysterious and exotic location, this is a novel universal in its substance. When 16th-century Jewish trader Abraham goes to Asia, he encounters an alien culture but also discovers a world of love and beauty. You can call it exquisite, incisive, provocative, but there are really not enough adjectives for this brilliant gem of a novel.”
— Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
View the List


In the autumn of 1598, Abraham, a melancholy young Jewish gem merchant, seeks his fortune far from the imprisoning ghetto walls of Venice. Traveling halfway across the world, he lands in the lush and exotic Burmese kingdom of Pegu—an alien place, yet one where the jewel trader is not shunned for his faith. There is a price for his newfound freedom, however. Local custom demands that Abraham perform a duty he finds troubling and barbaric . . . and thus Mya, barely more than a girl, arrives to share his bed. Gently banishing his despair, awakening something profound within him, Mya ultimately accepts Abraham's protection and, unexpectedly, his love. But great social and political upheaval threatens to violently transform the Peguan empire—with devastating consequences for Abraham and Mya and their dreams for the future.

About the Author

Jeffrey Hantover has written extensively on social issues, art, and culture for international publications, and his poetry has been published in several U.S. literary journals. He lived in Hong Kong for more than a decade and resides with his wife in New York City.

Praise For The Jewel Trader of Pegu: A Novel

“A thinking reader’s tale with all the trappings of an exotic historical romance.”
— Debra Dean, author of The Madonnas of Leningrad

“Dreamy and lyrical, steeped in the customs and atmosphere of a world long lost, THE JEWEL TRADER OF PEGU takes the reader on a deep emotional journey through the meanings of what is precious.”
— Liza Dalby, author of The Tale of Murasaki: A Novel, and Geisha

“[Readers] will be swept away by Hantover’s lavish descriptions of an exotic, lost Asian kingdom; the gentle love story; and the tale of one man’s thoughtful journey to his heart’s home.”
— Booklist

“A journey to the center of the heart . . . a beautiful story of love overcoming obstacles . . . [R]eaders are treated to a long look at the interior landscape of a man of faith whose world is shaken by the power of unexpected love.”
— BookPage

“A vivid portrait of life in Southeast Asia of the 16th century...[A] compelling debut novel.”
— The American Jewish World

“Beautifully written and expertly researched by an art and antiquities expert, this novel captivates ‘til its final page.”
— Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“[E]nchanting...moving...Hantover has written a jewel of a novel.”