April 13, 2013

Take Me Away....to Lebanon



Take Me Away Saturday

Take Me Away showcases fiction, nonfiction, and children's books that take place in a specific country and/or within a specific culture.  Take a trip in books!  Look for where we are going next and places we've traveled at the bottom of the post.



This week we are visiting the Middle Eastern country of Lebanon, as it won the poll.
Click here to learn more about Lebanon here.


Here is a map of Lebanon:




Famous Lebanese:

William Peter Blatty, wrote the screenplay for 'The Exorcist'

Footballer Youssef Mohamad

Actor Peter Macdissi (Towelhead, Six Feet Under, The Losers)
Fashion Designer Reem Acra

Now here are some books about this culture, organized into a variety of fiction, nonfiction, and children's books. *Note I am not an affiliate anywhere.

(P.S. There is a list of  the countries and cultures visited in past Take Me Away posts at the bottom of this post. Check them out and discover some good books to read and recommend some, too!)


FICTION SELECTIONS:


Boston, 1926. The '20s are roaring. Liquor is flowing, bullets are flying, and one man sets out to make his mark on the world.

Prohibition has given rise to an endless network of underground distilleries, speakeasies, gangsters, and corrupt cops. Joe Coughlin, the youngest son of a prominent Boston police captain, has long since turned his back on his strict and proper upbringing. Now having graduated from a childhood of petty theft to a career in the pay of the city's most fearsome mobsters, Joe enjoys the spoils, thrills, and notoriety of being an outlaw.

But life on the dark side carries a heavy price. In a time when ruthless men of ambition, armed with cash, illegal booze, and guns, battle for control, no one--neither family nor friend, enemy nor lover--can be trusted. Beyond money and power, even the threat of prison, one fate seems most likely for men like Joe: an early death. But until that day, he and his friends are determined to live life to the hilt.

Joe embarks on a dizzying journey up the ladder of organized crime that takes him from the flash of Jazz Age Boston to the sensual shimmer of Tampa's Latin Quarter to the sizzling streets of Cuba. Live by Night is a riveting epic layered with a diverse cast of loyal friends and callous enemies, tough rumrunners and sultry femmes fatales, Bible-quoting evangelists and cruel Klansmen, all battling for survival and their piece of the American dream. At once a sweeping love story and a compelling saga of revenge, it is a spellbinding tour de force of betrayal and redemption, music and murder, that brings fully to life a bygone era when sin was cause for celebration and vice was a national virtue.



In 2003, Osama al-Kharrat returns to Beirut after many years in America to stand vigil at his father's deathbed. The city is a shell of the Beirut Osama remembers, but he and his friends and family take solace in the things that have always sustained them: gossip, laughter, and, above all, stories. 
Osama's grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his bewitching stories -- of his arrival in Lebanon, an orphan of the Turkish wars, and of how he earned the name al-Kharrat, the fibster -- are interwoven with classic tales of the Middle East, stunningly reimagined. Here are Abraham and Isaac; Ishmael, father of the Arab tribes; the ancient, fabled Fatima; and Baybars, the slave prince who vanquished the Crusaders. Here, too, are contemporary Lebanese whose stories tell a larger, heartbreaking tale of seemingly endless war -- and of survival. 




The Stone of Laughter is a virile novel which brings forth the contradictory history of a city under fire through the life and dilemmas of a gay man. It is a bold and radical novel, full of black humor and cynical observations about life in war-torn Beirut. In 1990, when it first appeared in Arabic, it was hailed by critics throughout the Arab world as the best novel set against the background of the Lebanese civil war.
The fractured narrative is woven around Khalil, a gay man who tried to avoid ideological or military affiliations as he finds himself confronted with the collapse of his civil society. His only contact with the world at large is through his friends at a newspaper, for whom falling bombs meant great stories rather than tragedy and destruction. Khalil struggles to keep himself away from the war but is inevitably drawn in as he realizes that in a city of war, no one can remain neutral.

Written sensitively, and without a trace of sentimentality or political propaganda, The Stone of Laughter shook the Arab readers' preconceptions about women's writing and questioned the necessity of political affiliation for Arab authors.




A rich and beautiful novel set during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s, and based on the author's personal experiences of the conflict. Ten-year-old Ruba lives in a village outside Beirut. From her family home, she can see the buildings shimmering on the horizon and the sea stretched out beside them. She can also hear the rumble of the shelling -- this is Lebanon in the 1980s and civil war is tearing the country apart. Ruba however has her own worries. Her father hardly ever speaks and spends most of his days sitting in his armchair, avoiding work and family. Her mother looks so sad that Ruba thinks her heart might have withered in the heat like a fig. Her elder brother, Naji, has started to spend his time with older boys -- and some of them have guns. When Ruba decides she has to save her father, and when she uncovers his secret, she begins a journey which takes her from childhood to the beginnings of adulthood. As Israeli troops invade and danger comes ever closer, she realises that she may not be able to keep her family safe. This is a first novel with tremendous heart, which captures both a country and a childhood in turmoil. 



With more than 21,000 copies in print of  Women Of Sand And Myrrh, and more than  15,000 copies of The Story Of  Zahra, Hanan al-Shaykh is the best known and most  admired woman writer of the Arab world. The paperback  publication of Zahra will bring  this passionate and courageous novel to a much  larger group of readers. Its haunting story of a  young Lebanese woman who attempts to stem the  violence in Beirut by initiating a sexual liaison with a  sniper has "lifted the corner of a dark  curtain" (Sunday Telegraph )  from a world that fascinates us all.



Thirty-nine-year-old Sirine, never married, lives with a devoted Iraqi-immigrant uncle and an adoring dog named King Babar. She works as a chef in a Lebanese restaurant, her passions aroused only by the preparation of food—until an unbearably handsome Arabic literature professor starts dropping by for a little home cooking. Falling in love brings Sirene's whole heart to a boil—stirring up memories of her parents and questions about her identity as an Arab American.

Praised by critics from The New Yorker to USA Today for her first novel, Arabian Jazz ("an oracular tale that unfurls like gossamer"), Diana Abu-Jaber weaves with spellbinding magic a multidimensional love story set in the Arab-American community of Los Angeles.

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. 



NONFICTION SELECTIONS:



In the 1960s Claudia Roden introduced Americans to a new world of tastes in her classic A Book of Middle Eastern Food. Now, in her enchanting new book, Arabesque, she revisits the three countries with the most exciting cuisines today—Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon. Interweaving history, stories, and her own observations, she gives us 150 of the most delectable recipes: some of them new discoveries, some reworkings of classic dishes—all of them made even more accessible and delicious for today’s home cook.From Lebanon, a cuisine of great diversity: a wide variety of mezze (those tempting appetizers that can make a meal all on their own); dishes featuring sun-drenched Middle Eastern vegetables and dried legumes; and national specialties such as kibbeh, meatballs with pine nuts, and lamb shanks with yogurt.

Claudia Roden knows this part of the world so intimately that we delight in being in such good hands as she translates the subtle play of flavors and simple cooking techniques to our own home kitchens. 




One of the most thought-provoking books ever written about the Middle East, From Beirut to Jerusalem remains vital to our understanding of this complex and volatile region of the world. Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman drew upon his ten years of experience reporting from Lebanon and Israel to write this now-classic work of journalism. In a new afterword, he updates his journey with a fresh discussion of the Arab Awakenings and how they are transforming the area, and a new look at relations between Israelis and Palestinians, and Israelis and Israelis. Rich with anecdote, history, analysis, and autobiography, From Beirut to Jerusalem will continue to shape how we see the Middle East for many years to come.




In the summer of 2006, racing through Lebanon to report on the Israeli invasion, Anthony Shadid found himself in his family’s ancestral hometown of Marjayoun. There, he discovered his great-grandfather’s once magnificent estate in near ruins, devastated by war. One year later, Shadid returned to Marjayoun, not to chronicle the violence, but to rebuild in its wake.

So begins the story of a battle-scarred home and a journalist’s wounded spirit, and of how reconstructing the one came to fortify the other. In this bittersweet and resonant memoir, Shadid creates a mosaic of past and present, tracing the house’s renewal alongside the history of his family’s flight from Lebanon and resettlement in America around the turn of the twentieth century. In the process, he memorializes a lost world and provides profound insights into a shifting Middle East. This paperback edition includes an afterword by the journalist Nada Bakri, Anthony Shadid’s wife, reflecting on his legacy.




Gibran [1887 - April 10, 1931] was a Lebanese American artist, poet, and writer. He is chiefly known in the English speaking world for his 1923 book "The Prophet", a series of philosophical essays written in English prose. An early example of Inspirational fiction, the book sold well despite a cool critical reception, and became extremely popular in the 1960s counterculture. Much of Gibran's writings deal with Christianity, especially on the topic of spiritual love. His poetry is notable for its use of formal language, as well as insights on topics of life using spiritual terms. "The Prophet" is of composed of twenty-six poetic essays. The book became especially popular during the 1960s with the American counterculture and New Age movements. Since it was first published in 1923, it has never been has never been out of print. Having been translated into more than forty languages, it was one of the bestselling books of the twentieth century in the United States. Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, behind Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu. 




In Saha, Greg Malouf returns to the land of his ancestors to explore its broad and influential cuisine. Stretching from neighboring Iran throughout the Mediterranean to North Africa, the roots of Greg's culinary history are here in the land of his forbears, and together with writing partner Lucy Malouf, he embarks on a month-long culinary journey.

The cuisine in Saha is traditional and inspirational, enticingly spiced and fragrant with flower waters. From hearty peasant dishes to more subtly spiced specialties from ancient palaces, the dishes are complex in flavor yet not too complicated to make at home. Heartwarming stories and recipes from the people Greg and Lucy meet on their journey are teamed with evocative images and Greg's own unique take on history. The rich and exciting cuisine from Lebanon and Syria captures the spirit of the modern and the ancient, the characters, dishes, flavors and colors beautifully portrayed in this highly illustrated and lavishly designed volume. 
Bonus: Foreword by Anthony Bourdain! 


CHILDREN'S BOOKS:




In French, English, and Arabic, the gentle rhymes of this unique counting book take us through a Middle Eastern day. 



In this "poignant and appealing" story, a boy longs for peace in his war-torn Beirut. 




A tale of the immigration of Lebanese citizen Solomon Joseph Azar follows Solomon as he sails across the ocean, arrives in America with only a peddler's pack, and works to make enough money to send for his wife, Marie. 


This is, of course, just a sampling of books on Lebanon and Lebanese life for you to read. Do you want to recommend/share books that feature Lebanon? Or do you want to share other thoughts?  Please leave a note in the comments!

Be sure to check back for our next trip in books! :)

Where do you want to go next?





5 comments:

  1. These titles look amazing-I'm not very familiar with Lebanon but this was a fun peek at the country.

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  2. Lebanon is one of those places that I have always dreamed of visiting, and if you could hook me up with Youssef Mohamad, I woudl appreciate it.

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  3. I read The Prophet in high school. For some reason I don't remember a lot about it, though.

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