As I’ve mentioned before, one of the great advantages of my job is being able to read advance copies of the novels, memoirs and works of non-fiction that we feature in the Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival. So, I’ve already become a huge Ariel Sabar fan even though his book My Father’s Paradise, won’t be available in-stores until September. For those of you who can’t wait to read this rich and imaginative history of his father’s family’s life in Iraqi Kurdistan and subsequent immigration to Israel in the 1950s, this past weekend’s New York Times Sunday Magazine has an essay adapted from the book. I strongly recommend it. Without giving too much away, the essay serves as an overture that touches on all the major themes of Sabar’s book: the unique linguistic and historical journey of the Kurdish Jews; his own family’s dramatic history straddling Iraq, Israel and the United States; his youthful disaffection from that heritage and subsequent re-engagement; the tremendous toll taken on the individuals whose stories he shares–their difficulty belonging to the world they live in, alongside the impossibility of returning to the world the have the most affection for.
More than that, you should circle your calendar now for September 23 when Ariel Sabar will read from My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq.