Culture, Global, Israel, Justice

Today's Book Rec

One of the perks of lurking around the Jewish publishing world is that sometimes you get to read stuff before it’s out. One of the best things that I’ve read recently is Ariel Sabar’s forthcoming My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq. Sabar’s father, Yona, grew up speaking Aramaic in a small town in the mountains of Northern Iraq, and left for Israel as part of the mass exodus of Iraqi Jews in the early 1950’s. Yona Sabar eventually became a prominent linguist of Neo-Aramaic; he’s a professor at UCLA now.
The book is primarily Yona’s story, and offers a valuable look at life as it was in Sabar senior’s small town of Zakho for his and his parents’ generation, and of how things were for Mizrahi Jews just after the founding of the State of Israel (hint: not easy.) More than biography, though, the author weaves together history, folklore, third-party recollections and the occasional juicy linguistic nugget to paint a compelling portrait of small-town Iraqi Jews (and their transformation from small-town Iraqi living) over the last 100 years. There’s a lot of important stuff here, and it makes for yummy and worthwhile reading.
My Father’s Paradise isn’t out yet, but you can pre-order it.

2 thoughts on “Today's Book Rec

  1. My family are all big fan’s of Yona’s. He was my mother’s prof a UCLA when she was an undergrad, and is a colleague of my father in the field of Neo-Aramaic. I’m so excited for this book!

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