Sirine is thirty-nine and a breathtaking golden-haired beauty. Half-Iraqi and half-American, she was raised in Los Angeles by her Iraqi-born uncle -- a professor at the local university and an endless source of fabulous tales of jinns, sheiks and Bedouins -- after her aid-worker parents were killed in Africa. An exquisitely gifted cook at Cafe Nadia, where homesick Middle Eastern ex-pats collect to drink coffee and savour her perfectly spiced food, Sirine is loved by all. She has, however, never been in love herself, and it is her uncle's dearest wish that she will fall for dashing new college professor, Hanif Al Eyad, a political exile from Baghdad. The two meet at Cafe Nadia and from the start their relationship is steeped in the scents, flavours and textures of Sirine's cooking. But Sirine is not convinced that they have the right ingredients for a life of happy-ever-after; in particular, she worries that she is too American for Hanif.
In this rich, poignant and tender novel, Diana Abu-Jaber has created unforgettable characters and a compelling story of what it means to be an Iraqi living -- and loving -- in America.
'Love, lust and Lebanese cooking commingle to create a deliciously romantic romp about l'amour and the quest for identity' VANITY FAIR
TEST Diana Abu-Jaber's family emigrated to the US via Jordan. She is a journalist and food critic and lives in Oregon.