Literary world fired up over debut short story collection by gay immigration lawyer

Published: August 9, 2017

Exploring his multi-pronged identity, Los Angeles-born author who is of Judeo-Spanish descent via Cuba, Orlando Ortega-Medina, recently released his book ‘Jerusalem Ablaze’ to a warm critical reception

“Ikeda Yataro’s body was cremated today. May his soul be forever damned. The flames claimed his corpse and his roses — all that was left of the man.”

So opens “Torture by Rose,” the first story in Orlando Ortega-Medina’s debut short story collection “Jerusalem Ablaze: Stories of Love and Other Obsessions.”

Set in present-day Tokyo, it tells the story of Ikeda, a wealthy industrialist and patron of the arts who offers a talented university student the chance to become his sole heir. There are three conditions and should the student violate even one, they would forfeit the inheritance. The student agrees, but soon finds the price too much to bear. But don’t expect a morality lesson from the Jewish author.

“The stories in the book come from below my consciousness. They are to entertain and not leave any kind of message. I think the interesting thing is how people read the stories and what they take away tells a lot about the people reading them. I don’t mind what people come up with as long as they were moved by the story,” Ortega-Medina said, speaking with The Times of Israel from London.

In all, 13 tales lie between the covers of the book and, like “Torture by Rose,” they are not spun from sweetness and light. Rather, the darkly humorous stories are occasionally violent, often uncomfortable, and always populated with characters on a quest to find their place in the world. It’s a quest reflective of the 49-year-old author’s own search for identity. Continue reading on The Times of Israel