All Strangers Are Kin by Zora O'Neill
Adventures in Arabic and the Arab World

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In the end, O’Neill, frequently overwhelmed by the “culture’s little codes, the clues and symbols that exposed sect and allegiance,” needed much more time to master this language. A valiant chronicle of the author’s “Year of Speaking Arabic Badly.”
-Kirkus

Synopsis

“The shaddais the key difference between a pigeon (hamam) and a bathroom (hammam). Be careful, our professor advised, in the first moment of outright humor in class, that you don’t ask a waiter, ‘Excuse me, where is the pigeon?’ — or, conversely, order a roasted toilet.”
 
If you’ve ever studied a foreign language, you know what happens when you first truly and clearly communicate with another person. As Zora O’Neill recalls, you feel like a magician. If that foreign language is Arabic, you just might feel like a wizard.

They say that Arabic takes seven years to learn and a lifetime to master. O’Neill had put in her time. Steeped in grammar tomes and outdated textbooks, she faced an increasing certainty that she was not only failing to master Arabic, but also driving herself crazy. She took a decade-long hiatus, but couldn’t shake her fascination with the language or the cultures it had opened up to her. So she decided to jump back in—this time with a new approach.

Join O’Neill for a grand tour through the Middle East. You will laugh with her in Egypt, delight in the stories she passes on from the United Arab Emirates, and find yourself transformed by her experiences in Lebanon and Morocco. She’s packed her dictionaries, her unsinkable sense of humor, and her talent for making fast friends of strangers. From quiet, bougainvillea-lined streets to the lively buzz of crowded medinas, from families’ homes to local hotspots, she brings a part of the world that is thousands of miles away right to your door.   

A natural storyteller with an eye for the deeply absurd and the deeply human, O’Neill explores the indelible links between culture and communication. A powerful testament to the dynamism of language, All Strangers Are Kin reminds us that learning another tongue leaves you rich with so much more than words.
 

About Zora O'Neill

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Zora O’Neill runs a “NYC Survival Cooking” class and has done her time as a line cook, in such places as Prune in the East Village. She has written for eGullet.org and Gastronomica, and also writes travel guides for Lonely Planet, Moon and Rough Guides. She relates her eating adventures abroad at the long-running blog Roving Gastronome (www.rovinggastronome.com).Tamara Reynolds (left) is co-author of Forking Fantastic!
 
Published June 14, 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference, Sports & Outdoors, Travel. Non-fiction
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Kirkus

Above average
on Mar 31 2016

In the end, O’Neill, frequently overwhelmed by the “culture’s little codes, the clues and symbols that exposed sect and allegiance,” needed much more time to master this language. A valiant chronicle of the author’s “Year of Speaking Arabic Badly.”

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