The Swine’s Wedding

The Swine’s Wedding is a campy novel about the problems of intermarriage as seen through the eyes of a Jewish mother and her son’s non-Jewish fiancée. Through these two women’s diaries, written as they plan for the wedding, we get an unusual view into family politics, religious identity and some very dysfunctional relationships.

When Solomon Beneviste decides to marry Allison Pennybaker, his mother, Miriam, is unhappy. Allison wants a church wedding, and in order to keep her future mother-in-law out from underfoot, she suggests that Miriam put together a family history of the Benevistes instead. As Miriam delves deeper into historical archives around the world, she begins to discover the Beneviste family’s chilling experiences during the Spanish Inquisition.

“We WASPs measure time by the expiration dates on milk cartons. You saw the whole wide long horrible picture,” writes Allison as she comes to understand Miriam distress. Her sympathy, however, is not nearly enough to stave off the novel’s bizarre climax.

Weiss’s novel is addictive, drawing the reader in with hints of a grizzly future and a terrifying past. Between those two temporal extremes, the reader is entertained by Weiss’s hilarious characters, each one stranger than the last. He balances this light-hearted portrayal with a horrifying, detailed look at the suffering of the Spanish Jews, though at times he is in danger of conflating the humor and the horror.