A stirring portrait of personal and artistic awakening in midcentury New York’s Arabic-speaking Jewish community.
Born in 1936 to an Iraqi father and Syrian mother who had immigrated to the United States, Jack Marshall grew up in Brooklyn’s Sephardic community. Inspired by the posthumous discovery of letters written by his father but never mailed, and colored equally by Arabic culture, Jewish tradition, and a thriving American metropolis, Marshall’s memoir is a lyrical story of an era, a city, a little-known community, and an artist’s coming-of-age. As Marshall evokes the magic of youth and discovery, he creates a moving tribute to the power of literature and its place in furthering his negotiation of language, culture, family strife, and issues of education, faith, and politics.
2006 PEN Center West Award for Creative Nonfiction Finalist
“Born in Brooklyn of Arabic/Jewish heritage, Marshall may represent the keynote, most critical multicultural mixture of our time.” —Naomi Shihab Nye, Hungry Mind Review