Mon May 25, 2009
"My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq."
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – Today, we revisit a show that first aired last year. Host Rich Fisher speaks with the Washington-based journalist Ariel Sabar, who recently published a memoir, "My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq." In this widely celebrated book --- among other accolades, it won the 2008 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography --- Sabar's life stands squarely at the intersection of present-day America and ancient Iraq. And in seeking out his own roots (and, more to the point, his father's roots), in looking into the personal experiences, academic pursuits, and cultural viewpoints that shaped his father's life, Sabar presents a meditation on his ancestry that makes for quite fascinating reading. As a critic in the pages of The Washington Post has noted: "If Ariel Sabar's 'My Father's Paradise' were only about his father's life, it would be a remarkable enough story about the psychic costs of immigration. But Sabar's family history turns out to be more than the chronicle of one man's efforts to retain something of his homeland in new surroundings. It's also a moving story about the near-death of an ancient language and the tiny flicker of life that remains in it . . . . The chapters describing [Sabar's father's] budding success as a linguist are thrilling, as both he and his professors recognized that as a speaker of Aramaic he was a living repository of an endangered tongue."