My Father's Paradise by Ariel Sabar
A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq

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In a remote corner of the world, forgotten for nearly three thousand years, lived an enclave of Kurdish Jews so isolated that they still spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Mostly illiterate, they were self-made mystics and gifted storytellers and humble peddlers who dwelt in harmony with their Muslim and Christian neighbors in the mountains of northern Iraq. To these descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel, Yona Sabar was born. 

Yona's son Ariel grew up in Los Angeles, where Yona had become an esteemed professor, dedicating his career to preserving his people’s traditions. Ariel wanted nothing to do with his father’s strange immigrant heritage—until he had a son of his own.

Ariel Sabar brings to life the ancient town of Zakho, discovering his family’s place in the sweeping saga of Middle-Eastern history. This powerful book is an improbable story of tolerance and hope set in what today is the very center of the world’s attention.


About Ariel Sabar

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Ariel Sabar's first book, My Father's Paradise, won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography. He is an award-winning former staff writer for the Baltimore Sun, Christian Science Monitor, and Providence Journal. His work has also appeared in the New York Times and Boston Globe, among many other publications. He teaches creative writing at The George Washington University and lives with his family in Washington, D.C.
Published October 13, 2009 by Algonquin Books. 364 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The distance between father and son is bridged as Sabar explores the conflicting demands of love and tradition, the burdens and blessings of an ancient culture encountering the 21st century.

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The New York Times

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The author’s father has devoted his life to preserving the vanished culture of the community where he grew up.

Oct 12 2008 | Read Full Review of My Father's Paradise: A Son's...

Christian Science Monitor

It was when Sabar began his own career as a journalist and then became a father himself that the formidable challenges his father had faced began to earn his respect.

Jun 20 2010 | Read Full Review of My Father's Paradise: A Son's...


Yona Sabar, a Kurdish Jew, is a respected, beloved linguistics professor at UCLA, but to his young son Ariel, he was a total geek - cheap, ill - dressed, clueless.

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Levantine Cultural Center.

Memorist Ariel Sabar and his father Yona SabarIn describing this aspect of our history as it related to the author's father Yona Sabar, we read about the importance of names:.

Jul 30 2010 | Read Full Review of My Father's Paradise: A Son's...

" - Publishers Weekly.

Jul 26 2015 | Read Full Review of My Father's Paradise: A Son's...

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