Call me ignorant, but I hadn’t a clue there had been Kurdish Jews in Iraq, much less Jews considered part of Lost Tribes of Israel and speak the language of Jesus Christ. Thank you to My Father’s Paradise for curing that ignorance and for so much more. I loved this book in which author Ariel Sabar marries history, biography, memoir, and even throws in a little linguistics (my true love) to boot.
Chronicling his attempt to connect with his father Yona, Sabar transports the reader to early 20th-century Iraq, where Muslims, Christians, and Jews live together peacefully in isolated Kurdistan. (Isn’t that a concept?) A consummate storyteller, he weaves together a narrative on the history of Kurdish Jews, their everyday lives, and the hardships and triumphs of his father’s family – a narrative that reads as beautifully as any novel.
Totally riveted, I found myself feeling disappointed when the family emigrated to Israel, but I shouldn’t have. Reading about Yona family’s adjusting to the struggles of a new life, including prejudice, was equally absorbing. And loving anything to do with linguistics, when Yona began research on his language, Aramaic, I was over the moon with each new tidbit about this practically extinct treasure and where it fits into the family of languages.
There is so much more to love about his book, including how the author finally begins to understand and appreciate his father and his history. I can do nothing but give it the highest praise possible. It is beautifully, lovingly written and tells a story I could have kept on reading. This definitely will not be my last read by this author.