Multnomah County Library Central Library, U.S. Bank Room, 810 SW 10th Avenue
Featuring a discussion with Diana Abu-Jaber, author and Portland State University Associate Professor of English
About the Book
Diana Abu-Jaber’s vibrant, humorous memoir weaves together stories of being raised by a food-obsessed Jordanian father with tales of Lake Ontario shish kabob cookouts and goat stew feasts under Bedouin tents in the desert. These sensuously evoked repasts, complete with recipes, in turn illuminate the two cultures of Diana’s childhood–American and Jordanian–while helping to paint a loving and complex portrait of her impractical, displaced immigrant father who, like many an immigrant before him, cooked to remember the place he came from and to pass that connection on to his children. The Language of Baklava irresistibly invites us to sit down at the table with Diana’s family, sharing unforgettable meals that turn out to be as much about “grace, difference, faith, love” as they are about food.
Free copies of the book will be available in advance to a limited number of participants.
About the Author
Diana Abu-Jaber is most recently the author of Birds of Paradise, an Indie Books Pick, as well as of the award winning memoir, The Language of Baklava, the best-selling novels Origin andCrescent, which was awarded the 2004 PEN Center USA Award for Literary Fiction and the American Book Award. Her first novel Arabian Jazz won the 1994 Oregon Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award.
A frequent contributor to NPR, Abu-Jaber teaches at Portland State University and divides her time between Portland and Miami.
Presented as part of A Day in the Life: Memoirs from the Middle East, a book club series which aims to dispel common stereotypes of the Middle East by exploring literature from the region. The rich narratives, stimulating detail and enchanting dialogue of the selected memoirs will draw readers in and provide new perspectives on the Middle East, beyond war and politics. Through interactive and participatory book club discussions, readers will engage with the text, with experts and authors, and each other to explore the diversity of daily life in the Middle East and consider both the similarities to and differences from our own lives in Oregon.
A Day in the Life is presented by the Multnomah County Library and the Portland State University Department of English and Centers for Public Humanities and Middle East Studies and was made possible in part by a grant from Oregon Humanities, a statewide nonprofit organization and an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which funds Oregon Humanities’ grant program. Any views, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect the views of Oregon Humanities or the National endowment for the Humanities.
The Portland State University Department of English offers a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses to meet the needs of students with a diversity of interests, and academic and professional backgrounds. The department offers courses in literature, rhetoric, composition, and critical theory and emphasizes intertextual and cross-disciplinary inquiry represented by many cultures and historical periods.
The Portland Center for the Public Humanities (PCPH) coordinates, promotes and supports rigorous humanistic inquiry into the languages, histories, and ideas that both shape our ways of life and offer a means of positively transforming them. PCPH’s mission is to connect the scholarly community of PSU with the city, and its programs have focused on topics vital to public life. PCPH programming has examined topics such as sustainability and the humanities; the prison industrial complex; Holocaust and genocide studies; and religion and secularism.
The Portland State University Middle East Studies Center promotes understanding of the people, cultures, languages and religions of the Middle East. As a National Resource Center for Middle East Studies under the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program, the Center serves as a resource on issues pertaining to the Middle East through activities that reach students and scholars, as well as businesses, educators, and the media. The Middle East Studies Center supports academic conferences, workshops, cultural events, lectures, and a resource library.
Multnomah County Library (MCL) is the oldest and largest public library in Oregon, serving nearly 20% of the state’s population (approximately 724,000 residents). MCL cardholders are voracious consumers of the Library’s collection, checking out over 33 items per person in 2011-12, the highest circulation of all libraries serving populations of fewer than one million. MCL hosted more than 22,000 events during the last year, including monthly meetings of 27 book discussion groups. More than 300,000 residents attended library programs. The community is eager for connection and learning – visiting the Library online or in person nearly 35,000 times each day in 2011-12. This November, nearly 63% of voters in the County voted to establish a library district, providing permanent, stable funding for this well-loved and well-used institution. MCL is guided by three pillars that define its role in and value to the community, which guides how MCL builds its collection and develop and present programming: 1) A free resource for all, 2) A trusted guide for learning, 3) The leading advocate for reading.