Ahlan wa sahlan!
Thank you for joining in with us in the Year of the Middle Eastern Reading Challenge (YMERC).
As promised, I will begin each month with:
- A book by a Middle Eastern author
- A graphic novel by a Middle Eastern author and/or Middle Eastern illustrator
- A new Arabic song to listen to throughout the month
At the end of each month, I’ll post:
- My reviews on the books and graphic novels of the month
- A Middle Eastern movie or TV show that I enjoyed that month
#YMERC Book of the Month
The Language of Baklava: A Memoir by Diana Abu-Jaber
From the acclaimed author of Crescent, called “radiant, wise, and passionate” by the Chicago Tribune, here is a vibrant, humorous memoir of growing up with a gregarious Jordanian father who loved to cook.
Diana Abu-Jaber weaves the story of her life in upstate New York and in Jordan around vividly remembered meals: everything from Lake Ontario shish kabob cookouts with her Arab-American cousins to goat stew feasts under a Bedouin tent in the desert. These sensuously evoked meals, in turn, illuminate the two cultures of Diana’s childhood—American and Jordanian—and the richness and difficulty of straddling both. They also bring her wonderfully eccentric family to life, most memorably her imperious American grandmother and her impractical, hotheaded, displaced immigrant father, who, like many an immigrant before him, cooked to remember the place he came from and to pass that connection on to his children.
As she does in her fiction, Diana draws us in with her exquisite insight and compassion, and with her amazing talent for describing food and the myriad pleasures and adventures associated with cooking and eating. Each chapter contains mouthwatering recipes for many of the dishes described, from her Middle Eastern grandmother’s Mad Genius Knaffea to her American grandmother’s Easy Roast Beef, to her aunt Aya’s Poetic Baklava.
#YMERC Graphic Novel of the Month
Cairo by G. Willow Wilson
A stolen hookah, a spiritual underworld, and a genie on the run change the lives of five strangers forever in this modern fable set on the streets of the Middle East’s largest metropolis.
CAIRO interweaves the fates of a drug runner, a down-on-his-luck journalist, an American expatriate, a troubled young student, and an Israeli soldier as they race through bustling present-day Cairo to find an artifact of unimaginable power, one protected by a dignified jinn and sought by a wrathful gangster-magician. But the vastness of Africa’s legendary City of Victory extends into a spiritual realm—the Undernile—and even darker powers lurk there…
Written by journalist G. Willow Wilson (Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, Cairo Magazine) and drawn by award-winning illustrator M.K. Perker (The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal), this magical-realist thriller brings together the ancient and modern Middle East.
#YMERC Arabic Song of the Month
Ben hanna wa maana by DAM
DAM is a Palestinian hip-hop group. Based in Lod, Israel, DAM was founded in 1999 by brothers Tamer and Suhell Nafar and their friend Mahmoud Jreri. Their songs are largely about racism and poverty. DAM raps primarily in Arabic, but also in English and Hebrew.** Wikipedia
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*The beautiful blog graphic is done by liv_does.