Book of the Month: Diana Abu-Jaber’s Crescent
Our book recommendation of the month is Diana Abu-Jaber’s Crescent, an award winning fiction and romance novel, set in the Arab-American community of Los Angeles.
This multilayered love story puts together a green-eyed thirty nine year old chef Sirine and Hanif, an exiled, good-looking Near Eastern Studies professor. Their encounter will spike things up and stir up memories of Sirine’s parents and questions about her identity as an Arab-American.
The novel is divided into two parts with thirty-two chapters. Thirty-nine year old Iraqi-American Sirine, who has never been married, lives with her devout Iraqi-immigrant uncle and her dog King Barbar. Sirine is a chef in a Lebanese restaurant specialized in Middle Eastern cuisine where Arab students come together for a taste of home and where the captivating refugee and Arabic literature professor from Baghdad stops by. Sirine’s and Hanif’s inextricable pasts are what make the story intriguing. On one hand, Sirine contemplates her cultural identity, the idea of love, the role of religion and the purpose of the stories. On the other hand, Hanif reflects on his days in Iraq and struggles to fit in Los Angeles. No more spoilers, but all I can say– for sure – there will be complications, love will conquer, and fate will take its place.
Crescent, a symbol of the Islamic culture, conveys the idea that Arab-American hybrids feel like as if their identities will never be intact and that they cannot exist as hybrids for long. This lushly written story unfolds the omnipresent loneliness of exile and the limits of love. There is so much more to it, but you will have to read it to find out. I highly recommend it.
Abu-Jaber, Diana 2003. Crescent. New York: Norton & Company.