Title: The Language of Baklava
Author: Diana Abu-Jaber
Release Date: March 14, 2006
Genre: Memoir, Cultural, Non-Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
In this memoir, author Diana Abu-Jaber reminisces about her childhood, growing up in the very different worlds of Jordan and the United States.
Memoirs about dueling cultures are always interesting, but Diana Abu-Jaber adds an extra layer to hers by telling it through the prism of food. Diana’s father was obsessed with food while she was growing up and it was his dream to open a restaurant. As a result, food played an important part in her life. Food was a constant source of comfort to her and her family, and Diana remembers the best and worst of times through the different dishes that were present. As a result, it makes a wonderful book for foodies, as her descriptions and the recipes included are simply delectable.
Diana’s stories in The Language of Baklava are simple and unremarkable, yet at the same time beautiful and timeless. She writes about everyday life, rather than the earth-shattering events - the indignation of an American teenager being uprooted and moved to Jordan, playing with a boy with a red scooter in Jordan - these are experiences many can relate to. She writes about the immigrant experience perfectly; anyone who has experience with or was raised by immigrants will likely recognize the stories that she tells, in some shape or form.
Abu-Jaber’s writing is breathtaking as she describes her childhood experience. There is a wisdom, a grace behind her words. Readers will feel her warmth as they are enveloped by the embrace of her memoir. The tone of the memoir is light-hearted, though there are some more serious memories within its pages. It focuses on the importance of food and family, a series of vignettes that travel forward through her life. The structure makes it easy to read and her writing style makes it a joy to experience.
The Language of Baklava is the perfect choice for anyone who loves thoughtful but not self-indulgent memoirs, books with amazing descriptions of food, and reads that profile the immigrant experience. It mixes all three of these elements in a beautiful way, rendering a compulsively readable book that readers won’t be able to put down.