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Sarra Copia: A Locked-in Life 

ISBN: 978-1-7336619-9-7

Trade paperback

Publication date: October 24, 2023


Sarra Copia: A Locked-in Life is historical fiction based on the life of the title character, who was confined in the Jewish ghetto in Venice from her birth in 1592 until her death forty-nine years later. Sarra’s father supported her secular as well as her Hebrew education, and she studied classical Greek, Latin, and philosophy, and wrote poetry and letters. Sarra even convened a literary salon in the ghetto that was attended regularly by Christian clerics—including one who came to accuse her of heresy. In crystalline prose, Nancy Ludmerer reimagines Sarra’s relationships with her family, her inner world, and her strong but often troubled connections with the Christian world outside the ghetto.


Sarra Copia: A Locked-in Life


  • Product Info

    WTAW Alcove Chapbook Series

    Historical Fiction

Praise for Sarra Copia: A Locked-in Life



"In this novella, Ludmerer captures the voice and deep intellect of Sarra Copia, a 17th century Jewish woman living in the confines of the Venice Ghetto. Locked inside the gates every evening, Sarra finds intellectual freedom in following her own mind, leading salons that include Christians, writing poetry and corresponding with others beyond the ghetto walls. The author was inspired to write a story based on the real-life Sarra after discovering her tombstone in the Jewish cemetery on the Lido." - Hadassah Magazine, September 2023

“Sarra Copia: A Locked-in Life is a wholly original, glorious novella about containment and transformation, about Copia, a Jewish woman, poet, and intellect in Renaissance-era Venice. Nancy Ludmerer embraces Sarra’s world, set within the Jewish ghetto of Venice, and beyond, with diamond-clear prose. This novella is about the power of language, of water, loss, of salons and fathers and sisters and one woman’s fierce, probing mind. Nancy Ludmerer writes with the authority and beauty of Edith Pearlman and Louise Erdrich; this is a magnificent book.”

—Karen Bender, author of Refund, National Book Award finalist



“Reading Nancy Ludmerer’s Sarra Copia: A Locked-in Life we are magically transported to 17th century Venice. Poet and intellectual Sarra Copia grows up in the Ghetto Nuovo, where her father cultivates in her a questioning, artistic mind: ‘The life of the mind. They can take other things from us, but they cannot take that.’ Ludmerer’s exquisite storytelling makes Sarra Copia a captivating read. Only afterward do we marvel at how she sculpts a moment of depth and historical significance, searing her character’s life into our understandings of the past.”

—Carol Dines, author of This Distance We Call Love



“With Sarra Copia: A Locked-in Life Nancy Ludmerer takes us on the journey of this remarkable Jewish woman, physically locked in the Venice ghetto from sunset to sunrise, but despite the discrimination in 17th century Venice, intellectually free. As Sarra moves from childhood to maturity, to marriage, motherhood, and eventually leadership in Venice’s salon culture, we experience with her the daily life of Jews relegated to the confines of the ghetto and her courageous intellectual and emotional quest to escape.”

—Rabbi Barbara Aiello, Italy’s first woman rabbi and author of The Cat That Ate the Cannoli: Tales of the Hidden Jews of Southern Italy

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