A memoir of traditions lost and found, a flooded city and the healing power of food.
An Egyptian-Jewish Under the Tuscan Sun: in a personal and engaging memoir, on recovering her lost identity, Zonana finds a sense of self among people, foods, and places as far from Cairo as Oklahoma and Katrina-stricken New Orleans.
“Joyce Zonana's beautifully crafted Dream Homes is juicy with lived experience, lush with imagery and ideas—a treat for the senses and the intellect. Spanning locales as diverse as Egypt, her country of origin, through New Orleans, to the dry plains of Oklahoma, Zonana carries us along with her through the spaces—both sensual and emotional—that make up a woman's life. This is a literary journey the reader won't quickly forget.” —Rosemary Daniell, author of Fatal Flowers: On Sin, Sex and Suicide in the Deep South
"In luminous and lucid prose, at once lament, elegy, and song, Zonana remembers the world of Egyptian Jews, a world she never knew, a world she knows intimately." —Carol P. Christ, author of Rebirth of the Goddess
"Joyce Zonana’s search for home is a hungry story, longing to be told again and again, moving across vast landscapes of the heart. Ranging widely in time and space, from her family’s origins as Egyptian Jews fleeing anti-Semitism to her post-Katrina exile from New Orleans, this luminous, haunting memoir is as carefully and lovingly constructed as one of its authors’ stuffed grape leaves. Whether our own tables are sumptuous or meager, Joyce Zonana’s journey shows us the resilient power of our lost homes to mold us and our own stories. I savored this book." —Minrose Gwin, author of The Woman in the Red Dress: Gender, Space, and Reading
"Joyce Zonana's memoir is a lush and beautiful read—a picture of the exotic (Egypt, Brazil), the mundane (New York), and the devastating (New Orleans after Katrina). Zonana writes gorgeous prose, full of spices and senses and sounds, while telling the story of a bookish girl who, like all of us, wants independence and love and great food. There are even recipes!"—Emily Toth, professor of English and women's studies, Louisiana State University
"Zonana's memoir . . . captures with honesty and beauty the suffering and uncertainty of migration and assimilation, whether forced or formulated." —Publishers Weekly
"Dream Homes is a story that is rich in travel, in memory, and in love—of family, of friends, of lovers both male and female, and of many, many places; it is filled with detail about the rituals that make life worth living—shared food (readers will be grateful for the recipe for stuffed grape leaves), shared prayers. In the end . . . Zonana is still on a welcoming threshold, combining the traditional with the new, cherishing 'the beauty of our past, the promise of our future.'" —Susan Larson, Times Picayune