The ProsenPeople

JBC Bookshelf: Icy Day Edition

Wednesday, February 02, 2011 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Gosh, it never ends. But, bad weather = more time to read, so we’re not complaining too much! On the book award front–Cynthia Ozick and David Grossman will both be attending the National Jewish Book Awards on March 9th, so come on out to see them. The ceremony begins at 8:00PM at the Center for Jewish History, and space is limited! In other news, spring books are flowing into our office and authors are about to begin to register for our 2011-2012 NETWORK tours, so we’ll have a lot of new books to share with you…bloggers to blog…and books to review.

Today’s lit picks from the desk:


The Oracle of Stamboul: A Novel, Michael David Lukas (February 2011, Harper)
Michael will be blogging for us the week of February 14th, so be on the look out…


Mr. Funny Pants, Michael Showalter (February 2011, Grand Central)                   Writer of one of the greatest movies of all time, Wet Hot American Summer.



Heart of the City: Nine Stories of Love and Serendipity on the Streets of New York, Ariel Sabar (February, 2011)
Ariel’s first book, My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, is a favorite of the JBC team


Modern Jewish Literatures: Intersections and Boundaries , Sheila E. Jelen, Michael P. Kramer, and L. Scott Lerner (December 2010, University of Pennsylvania Press)
Read an excerpt here.

Ariel Sabar: A Time to Put Aside the Armor

Monday, July 20, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Ariel Sabar, author of My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, wrote an essay for last Sunday’s New York TimesA Time to Put Aside the Armor.

2008 NETWORK Author News

Friday, March 13, 2009 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Congratulations to Ariel Sabar on his National Book Critics Circle Win! He is the Autobiography Winner for his title My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq. To view the other winners, click here.

And, Jennifer 8. Lee had an article in The New York Times yesterday, “Soup for Good Souls, Jewish or Otherwise," right here.


Taking Another Look at Iraq and Albania…

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

I’m currently in the middle of Ariel Sabar’s memoir My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq and am fascinated by the history of the Jews and Muslims in Zakho, who lived alongside one another in mountainside villages for nearly 2,700 years. The two communities lived, more or less, peacefully alongside one another during that time, and the Kurdish Jews were subjected to almost none of the anti-Semitism that Jews in other regions of the world were forced to combat. As Sabar explains:

Seclusion bred fraternity. . . In important ways, they were Kurds first and Muslims, Christians, or Jews second. Muslims sent Jews bread and milk as gifts after Passover. . . They sent their Jewish neighbors hot tea during the Sabbath, when Jews were forbidden to light fires . . . And the Jews paid back the respect, forgoing cigarettes, for instance, during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims may not smoke.

Sabar crafts an intriguing portrayal of this exceptional community, blending his family’s personal history with the larger history of the region, interspersing stories and anecdotes of the people who have lived there.

(If you’re interested in more titles about Iraqi Jews, you may enjoy these new titles: Iraq’s Last Jews: Stories of Daily Life, Upheaval, and Escape from Modern Babylon (Tamar Morad, Dennis Shasha, Robert Shasha, eds.) and Memories of Eden: A Journey Through Jewish Baghdad (Violette Shamash))

And, conveniently another book that focuses on relationships between Muslims and Jews has found its way to my desk. This stunning book of photography, Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II, by Norman H. Gershman, tells the story of Albanian Muslims and Besa, a code of honor deeply rooted in Albanain culture and incorporated into the faith of Albanian Muslims. Besa dictates a moral behavior so absolute that nonadherence brings shame and dishonor to one’s family. Gershman has collected the stories of Muslims in Albania and Kosovo, who sheltered both Jews from their own cities, but also thousands of Jews fleeing other European countries. Each story is accompanied by Gershman’s gorgeous photographs, revealing a hidden period in history, and the compassion of ordinary people.

The stories in Besa will be the subject of a full-length documentary, God’s House, currently in production. To view the trailer, click here.

And… one of Gershman’s photos from the book (photo of Baba Haxhi Dede Reshat Bardhi):

Move Over Europe

Friday, November 21, 2008 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Over the past several years, the Jewish Book Council has received an influx of titles concerning the plight of Jews outside the boundaries of Europe. No longer are our shelves dominated by the European Jewish experience, as we see an increasing number of books that convey stories of the Jewish experience in Iran, Iraq, India, and Egypt, among other places. As the Jewish communities of these regions shrink, it’s important that we encourage the publication of these gems of history that capture the vibrancy and unique qualities these cultures hold. With Winter at our door, what better time to stay inside and expand your understanding of the Jewish experience.

A few suggestions to you get you going…

My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for his Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, Ariel Sabar

The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: My Family’s Exodus from Old Cairo to the New World, Lucette Lagnado

The Septembers of Shiraz, Dalia Sofer

The Last Jews of Kerala: The Two Thousand Year History of India’s Forgotten Jewish Community, Edna Fernandes

Dropped From Heaven, Sophie Judah

The Girl from Foreign: A Search for Shipwrecked Ancestors, Forgotten Histories, and a Sense of Home, Sadia Shepard

Farewell, Babylon: Coming of Age in Jewish Baghdad, Naim Kattan

Have another recommendation? Please comment and let us know!