It’s a beautiful book. Ciezadlo sets out to tell her personal experience of the Middle East – both as a foreign correspondent and as a cook. It starts with her first marrying a Lebanese Shi’ite journalist, and their move to the Middle East, where she works as a journalist, learns Arabic, and move importantly experiences life in the middle of conflict in Iraq and Lebanon. It’s a personal story, and a deeply moving one. The stories of the friendships and relationships she formed there are inextricably interwound.
It’s not a simple book. Her epilogue doesn’t give a clear answer. It doesn’t identify a single problem, let alone a single solution.
And I think in this case that’s a powerful thing. Narratives with a clear outcome or conclusion can be appealing, but where they’re forced or artificial I think we lose something really important. In Ciezadlo’s case I think it’s the real sense of personal experience (the joy and the tragedy) that she conveys, which is the most powerful part of her story.
Well worth a read.