It’s that time of the week again! MizB at Should Be Reading asks what new books have joined the groaning bookshelves in the past seven days … Well, memoir is one of my favorite genres to read, and it shows in this list:
I received Wife in the Northby Judith O’Reilly from Book Club Girl. She offered a paperback copy (published just last month!) to each of ten readers who shared their own “wife in the north” stories; you can read the submissions in the Comments section. Here’s what Book Club Girl has to say:
… funny and acutely observed memoir of being uprooted from the London she loves to live in the country among sheep shearers and a lot of mud, and which sprouted out of her blog of the same name …
One wife, mother, and writer extraordinaire’s uproariously funny and heartwarming account of the joys and terrors of leaving the city for the country with a young family in tow.
A second memoir that found its way into my home this week is Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal by Diana M. Raab. This appeals to me because of my strong interest in genealogy and family history. I’ll be reviewing this book for Curled Up With a Good Book; according to the publisher:
Diana has questions she wishes she could have asked her beloved grandmother, Regina, a spirited woman who loved her, cared for her, and even taught her to type her first stories on a Remington typewriter. When Regina inexplicably took her own life at age sixty-one, ten-year-old Diana was devastated.
More than three decades later, Diana discovers Regina’s secret diary. She learns all about her grandmother’s life—from the tragic death of her mother when Regina was twelve and her suffering in Vienna during World War I to her escape from the Nazis with her husband and daughter to her eventual arrival in the United States.
Diana’s reflections are interspersed with excerpts from Regina’s diary. This unique, braided narrative presents a touching portrait of the relationship between Diana and Regina, and the way Regina’s life and love still resonate with Diana today.
I was sent a review copy of Ariel Sabar’s My Father’s Paradise from the publisher, Algonquin Books. This title will be available for sale September 16. Here’s a summary:
In a remote and dusty corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an ancient community of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic—the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers, humble peddlers and rugged loggers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born.
In the 1950s, after the founding of the state of Israel, Yona and his family emigrated there with the mass exodus of 120,000 Jews from Iraq—one of the world’s largest and least-known diasporas. Almost overnight, the Kurdish Jews’ exotic culture and language were doomed to extinction. Yona, who became an esteemed professor at UCLA, dedicated his career to preserving his people’s traditions. But to his first-generation American son Ariel, Yona was a reminder of a strange immigrant heritage on which he had turned his back—until he had a son of his own.
My Father’s Paradise is Ariel Sabar’s quest to reconcile present and past. As father and son travel together to today’s postwar Iraq to find what’s left of Yona’s birthplace, Ariel brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, telling his family’s story and discovering his own role in this sweeping saga. What he finds in the Sephardic Jews’ millennia-long survival in Islamic lands is an improbable story of tolerance and hope.
So three great memoirs this week! They all look great, and I’m looking forward to reading each of them. I’m going to “weave” them in between some light fiction so I don’t get bogged down and can appreciate the merits of each.
Oh, and today’s the last day to entry my giveaway for a copy of Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle. I’m heading into Boston with some friends this afternoon (Girls’ Night OUT!, no husbands or children allowed!), but I promise to post the winner as soon as I stumble return home tomorrow evening. If you hear of any riots in Faneuil Hall or big bookstores, just know we’re having a good time!