Children of the Roojme: A Family's Journey

Elmaz Abinader, Author W. W. Norton & Company $19.95 (303p) ISBN 978-0-393-02952-9
Homesickness is palpable in Abinader's haunting, piercingly lyrical account of four generations of her Lebanese-American family. Her grandfather Rachid, sheik of a mountain village, migrated to Brazil, set up a rubber-trading business, then returned to Lebanon, where political infighting and family feuding drove him from his home. Likewise divided between two continents, his son Jean left for the U.S. in 1937 to set up a dry goods business in Pennsylvania, forsaking the native farmland he loved, but returned to Lebanon in 1973. Shifting back and forth in time, the complex, poignant narrative evokes the hope and despair of a people, making one family's saga emblematic of a nation torn apart. A roojme or hand-built stone terrace bordered the houses of Rachid and his two brothers; ``just a bunch of rocks,'' it is a site for courtship and family rites, symbolical anchor in a quicksand world racked by famine, religious strife and war. Abinader, who teaches creative writing at John Jay College in New York, also probes the pangs of acculturation in America. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-299-15734-0
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