By Annia Ciezadlo
Free Press, February 2011
Hardcover, 400 pages
Description (From Simon and Schuster)
In the fall of 2003, Annia Ciezadlo spent her honeymoon in Baghdad. Over the next six years, while living in Baghdad and Beirut, she broke bread with Shiites and Sunnis, warlords and refugees, matriarchs and mullahs. Day of Honey is her memoir of the hunger for food and friendship—a communion that feeds the soul as much as the body in times of war.
Reporting from occupied Baghdad, Ciezadlo longs for normal married life. She finds it in Beirut, her husband's hometown, a city slowly recovering from years of civil war. But just as the young couple settles into a new home, the bloodshed they escaped in Iraq spreads to Lebanon and reawakens the terrible specter of sectarian violence. In lucid, fiercely intelligent prose, Ciezadlo uses food and the rituals of eating to illuminate a vibrant Middle East that most Americans never see. We get to know people like Roaa, a determined young Kurdish woman who dreams of exploring the world, only to see her life under occupation become confined to the kitchen; Abu Rifaat, a Baghdad book lover who spends his days eavesdropping in the ancient city's legendary cafÉs; Salama al-Khafaji, a soft-spoken dentist who eludes assassins to become Iraq's most popular female politician; and Umm Hassane, Ciezadlo's sardonic Lebanese mother-in-law, who teaches her to cook rare family recipes—which are included in a mouthwatering appendix of Middle Eastern comfort food. As bombs destroy her new family's ancestral home and militias invade her Beirut neighborhood, Ciezadlo illuminates the human cost of war with an extraordinary ability to anchor the rhythms of daily life in a larger political and historical context. From forbidden Baghdad book clubs to the oldest recipes in the world, Ciezadlo takes us inside the Middle East at a historic moment when hope and fear collide. Day of Honey is a brave and compassionate portrait of civilian life during wartime—a moving testament to the power of love and generosity to transcend the misery of war.
About the Author
She has written about culture, politics, and the Middle East for The New Republic, The Nation, The Washington Post, the National Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Observer, and Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper. Annia lives somewhere between New York and Beirut, with her husband, the journalist Mohamad Bazzi.
Day of Honey is an absolutely mesmerizing read! Annia Ciezadlo's storytelling abilities are astounding; each page is illuminated with the sights, sounds, and aromas of a worn-torn Middle East. But don't be fooled...this is far from a political memoir! The effects of war are portrayed in such a humanitarian manner and one that focuses on the essence of daily survival...food. Through her representation of the local food, Ciezadlo brings perspective to the culture and the landscape that is the Middle East. I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir and was easily swept away to another time and place. In the end, I gained a great deal of insight and understanding of an often misunderstood people and culture. With the current events taking place in the Middle East, this book is a must read for anyone who desires a greater understanding! Ciesadlo's writing is a true gift to behold and I easily give this memoir a 5!
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book as part of the Free Press Blog Tour in exchange for my honest review.