Set in the lively Arab communities of Los Angeles, this is a dazzling love story, performed with the unique tastes, smells, and myths of the Middle East. Sirine, half-Iraqi and half-American, was orphaned when her parents were killed during overseas aid work and largely raised by her Iraqi uncle, a storyteller that tells fantastic fables to Sirine ...
Set in the lively Arab communities of Los Angeles, this is a dazzling love story, performed with the unique tastes, smells, and myths of the Middle East. Sirine, half-Iraqi and half-American, was orphaned when her parents were killed during overseas aid work and largely raised by her Iraqi uncle, a storyteller that tells fantastic fables to Sirine. She cooks in a cafe owned by a Lebanese woman, which draws the neighborhood's Arab and Iranian students, expatriates, and exiles, all hungry for connections to their homes. Her passions are aroused only by cooking until an unbearably handsome Arabic literature professor starts dropping by for a little home cooking. Falling in love with Hanif brings Siriene's whole heart to a boil--stirring up memories of her parents and questions about her own identity as an Arab American. Written in a lush, lyrical style reminiscent of The God of Small Things, infused with the flavors and scents of Middle Eastern food, and spiced with history and fable, Crescent is a sensuous love story and a gripping tale of risk and commitment.
This story is a bit of mystery with the romance. It literally keeps you hungry for more with much talk about spices and food, and you really cannot tell how it will end until you get there. Very well written, and insightful on a cultural level.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-04-07 Abu-Jaber (Arabian Jazz) weaves the story of a love affair between a comely chef and a handsome, haunted Near Eastern Studies professor together with a fanciful tale of a mother's quest to find her wayward son in this beautifully imagined and timely novel, which explores private emotions and global politics with both grace and conviction. Green-eyed, 39-year-old Sirine cooks up Arab specialties in a bustling cafe in Los Angeles where Arab students gather for a taste of home. When her doting uncle, who raised her after the death of her relief-worker parents 30 years ago, introduces her to his colleague Hanif, the placid surface of her life is disturbed. Their affair begins quickly and ardently, as Sirine, who has heretofore equated cooking with love, discovers the pleasures of romance, and the exiled Han struggles to feel grounded in a place far from the Baghdad he loved as a boy. In Abu-Jaber's sensuous prose, the city is as lush and fragrant as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and her secondary characters, like the wry, wise cafe owner Um-Nadia and the charmingly narcissistic poet and satyr Aziz, are appealingly eccentric. But a darkly troubled photographer drawn to both Sirine and Han, news of Saddam Hussein's latest atrocities and Han's painful memories of his imprisoned brother and his disappeared sister, for whose fates he feels responsible, cloud their affair, perhaps dooming it. Abu-Jaber's poignant contemplations of exile and her celebration of Sirine's exotic, committed domesticity-almond cookies, cardamom, and black tea with mint-help make this novel feel as exquisite as the "flaming, blooming" mejnoona tree behind Nadia's Cafe. Agent, Joy Harris. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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