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Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber
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Crescent (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Diana Abu-Jaber

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4801521,469 (3.82)16
Member:Veej53
Title:Crescent
Authors:Diana Abu-Jaber
Info:W. W. Norton & Company (2004), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Your library, 25-book List B, Read 2012
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Fiction - Literary

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Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber (2003)

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English (15)  Swedish (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Read this before we moved, and somehow never got to writing my review. I like this author's works, and I like the way she weaves food, flavors, sensations into her works. This was no disappointment in that regard, in fact, there are a few recipes in the back worth investigating.

The story was gentle, filled with longing, love, heartache, and wonderful stories. There were some holes, but for the most part, there is a stark reality that Abu-Jaber has in her books, infused with honey, and wrapped in a delicious flaky crust, multi-layered, multi-flavored, interesting with each bite.

But what was the name of Sirene's uncle? I don't think it appears at all in the book; he's just "Sirene's uncle." ( )
  bookczuk | Apr 29, 2014 |
Wow. Beautiful, remarkable novel. Read it. (and Vanity Fair, it's not a "deliciously romantic romp"). (I mean, a romp? really?)
( )
  jarvenpa | Mar 31, 2013 |
beautiful love story, descriptions evolk smells
  asyouth | Sep 7, 2011 |
Beautiful and sensual, this novel brings ths scents and tastes of Arab food and love to life. Gorgeous prose combines the patient telling of a family fable with the harsh and wonderful reality of being an Arab immigrant in the US. Reminded me very much of Like Water for Chocolate in the way the food is another character. Even before I finished this book I found and bought another book by this amazing author. ( )
  Lcwilson45 | Nov 14, 2010 |
This is an ambitious novel, and there are some lovely images, as well as a lot of potential in the work as a whole. In the end, though, I can't say that I see it achieving much of anything it aims at, aside from bringing up various interesting (if already known) questions.....and failing to follow through.

Writing-wise, the book is heavy handed and predictable. Framing the major portion of the book into a traditional love story is not only unbelievable and cheesy, but ends up undermining the more serious issues brought up. I can appreciate a good romance, literary or not, but the truth is that this is missing the elements of romance that my friends and I actually enjoy--the relatable characters, the mystery, the risque situations and dialogues. Thus, it often comes across as a censored-down soap opera, and the closing forty pages or so are sadly laughable.

What IS done well is an integration of food & taste sensory----I can't imagine reading this and Not becoming hungry; and, I'm rather curious to try the recipes that show up in the book club section at the back of the book. I hate to say it, but I think they may be the valuable part of the text.

The book does attempt an exploration of complicated issues: immigrants, refugees, and exiles; politics; US relations with the middle east; the place of the artist in society and in revolution; love; community; and the nature/place of oral cultures in a world that often seems to have grown out of them. It is, only, an exploration, however---and that's likely too clear a word for it. Yes, the book tells a story, and yes, it brings up issues, but I can't give it more credit then that.

Obviously, I can't recommend the book. It's nicely written and ambitious, but I think seeing more requires doing more reading Between the lines than anything else, and giving far more credit than deserved. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Nov 12, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393325547, Paperback)

It's a positive relief to read a novel that treats Iraqis as real people. Diana Abu-Jaber's second novel, Crescent, is set in Los Angeles and peopled by immigrants and Iraqi-Americans. Thirty-nine-year-old, half-Arab Sirine is a chef in a Lebanese restaurant. Her uncle works at the university with Han, an Iraqi-born academic who begins frequenting Sirine's restaurant, drawn by her beauty and her exquisite cooking. Part of the book's charm is in its determination to impart the sheer glamour of Arabia, here personified in Han's face: "Sirine watches Han and for a moment it seems that she can actually see the ancient traces in Han's face, the quality of his gaze that seems to originate from a thousand-thousand years of watching the horizon--a forlorn, beautiful gazing, rich and more seductive than anything she has ever seen." Too, the book addresses head-on the one-dimensional view Americans possess of Iraq. I used to read about Baghdad in Arabian Nights," says one American character. "It was all about magic and adventurers. I thought that's what it was like there. And when I got older Baghdad turned into the stuff about war and bombs--the place on the TV set. I never thought about there being any kind of normal life there." As she falls more deeply in love with Han, Sirine discovers that part of being Iraqi now means learning to live with not knowing: not knowing where people have disappeared to, not knowing if your family is alive or dead. In the book's thrilling, romantic denouement, these lessons come perilously close to Sirine's Los Angeles home. Crescent brings alive a vibrant community of exiled academics, immigrants on the make, and optimistic souls looking for love. --Claire Dederer

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:39 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Never married, living with an Iraqi-immigrant uncle and devoted dog, and working as a chef in a Lebanese restaurant, thirty-nine-year-old Sirine finds her life turned upside down by a handsome Arabic literature professor.

(summary from another edition)

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