Noa Rosen has lost her mother and is still reeling from that loss. A twenty-something student in Israel, she is seeking meaning and understanding. When she is given the diary that her mother kept during her illness she discovers that there was much about her mother that she never knew.
Violet Rosen has come to the end of her life. As she struggles with leaving her beloved husband and children behind, she finds a way to share her story with them after she’s gone. Through the pages of her diary we learn of her immigration from Iraq to Israel. The diary is a Godsend for her daughter, Noa, after her loss, but it is also healing to Violet.
Farida Sasson is also dealing with loss. She is a widow and is having a hard time coping with an emptiness that has enveloped her since her children have left home and her husband has passed away. She finds strength in her family and in food and she loves to indulge in both. When she sees her niece struggling to cope with life after her sister’s death, she decides she is ready to give her the diary. Through the pages of this diary she hopes that Noa will also learn the importance of family.
I greatly enjoyed Daughters of Iraq. I was very impressed with the author’s ability to alternate voice and completely jump around between time periods and locations with ease. The pace of the book was wonderful and I found it hard to put down. I found the story to be very touching. The pages of Violet’s diary were especially memorable to me. I found myself turning pages faster and faster during her stories of a privileged existence in Iraq to a much more challenging life in Israel. I was deeply moved by the descriptions of her withering body and her coming to terms with it. I also found this book to be educational. While it is a novel, it is based in historical fact and much of this history I never gave much consideration to. I would strongly recommend this book and I’m very glad that I read it.
Q&A with Revital Shiri-Horowitz
Pages of Gold: I'm very interested in how you came up with the plot for this story. Is it any reflection on your personal story or the story or someone you know?
Revital: Thanks for asking that question, Heidi! The reason I started writing this book was out of anger. I was a student at the time at Tel-Aviv University, studying for my Masters degree in Hebrew Literature. As the daughter of Iraqi-Jewish immigrants to Israel, I was so tired of hearing about Jewish women from Arab countries who were and still are being placed on a lower rung of the ladder in Israeli society. At that time I thought that the story of these Iraqi-Jewish women immigrants went unspoken. The women in my family have the right to be heard. The women in my family were strong and powerful. They saved their children’s' lives once or twice. They weren't afraid of what people would have thought about them and just did the right thing to survive. I thought that someone should tell their story. Since I had no one in mind that was able to do so, I wrote their story myself...
My novel, Daughters of Iraq, is based on my family's story. Everything that had to do with Iraq is true. So are all the traditions and holiday celebrations and recipes I share in the book. I did have to build a story that would be attractive, human and touching, so I used fictional characters and built them around the facts on my family's emigration story from Iraq to Israel in the 1950s, and also on my life as a university student.
Pages of Gold: What are your thoughts on the book being published in both Hebrew and English?
Revital: Daughters of Iraq was written in Hebrew and published in Israel in 2007. I managed to find a wonderful translator named Shira Atik, and then I gave the book to an editor, who did a fantastic job. The book was self-published in English in the beginning of April 2011.
Pages of Gold: Where can we learn more about you?
Revital: What would you like to know? I was born and raised in Israel. As a kid, I wrote poetry and short stories, and wrote in my journal up until I met my husband. I never imagined that one day I’d be a published author in multiple languages, and in so many countries, and even continents. Wow!
I earned a BA in Hebrew Literature and Geography from Tel Aviv University, an MA in Geography from Haifa University and an MA in Hebrew Literature from Tel Aviv University.
I was an assistant professor of Geography in Haifa and Tel Aviv Universities, and have been an editor for Hebrew-language books.
Currently based in Seattle, Washington, and in Israel, I'm the mother of four boys, married to Amnon for twenty years, write poetry, keep a blog in “Haaretz,” an Israeli newspaper, and run a blog in English at http://revitalsh.wordpress.
I love hearing from my readers and enjoy giving presentations to readers groups and book clubs and other groups. And yes, I am working on a second novel.
GIVEAWAY of Daughters of Iraq!
Please comment below on what creative act you took perhaps out of anger or frustration... and enter to win a copy of Daughters of Iraq.
In one week, Revital will pick one winner of this book!
Available in any ebook format or as a paper copy. Also available in English or in Hebrew. Let us know the format and language when we contact you about winning. We will ship a copy anywhere in the world!
For the Giveaway Grand Prize: Everyone who comments is eligible to win a lovely book by Mama Nazima, Jewish Iraqi Cuisine (http://www.amazon.com/Mama-