Abu-Jaber was born in Syracuse, New York, to an
American mother and a Jordanian father. Her newest
work, a food memoir entitled The Language of Baklava,
was recently published by Pantheon. This book
is organized around her experiences with growing
up in a food-obsessed Arab-American family in
the States in the 1970’s and 80’s,
and each chapter is punctuated with her father’s
recipes for traditional Middle Eastern dishes.
Her first novel, Arabian Jazz — considered
by many to be the first mainstream Arab-American
novel — won the Oregon Book award in 1994,
and was republished by W.W. Norton in 2003. Her
latest novel, Crescent, published by W.W. Norton
in 2003, focuses on a multicultural love story
between an Iraqi exile and an Iraqi-American chef.
Crescent won the PEN Center Award for Literary
Fiction and the Before-Columbus American Book
Award, and has been published in eight countries
to date. It was also named a Notable Book of the
Year by the Christian Science Monitor.
Program: Life Sentence