Dreams of his father’s past

October 6, 2008 § Leave a comment

Yona Sabar, a professor at UCLA, is an eminent scholar of Neo-Aramaic, the heroic rescuer of a language near extinction, and the sort of mensch who prompts rapturous reviews and fierce admiration from his students. But to his son Ariel, growing up among the privileged offspring of Los Angeles’s moneyed set, Yona — a Kurdish Jew born in Zakho, Iraq, who emigrated to Israel and, ultimately, the United States — was a source of shame and an object of ridicule, an immigrant with funny hair, a funny accent, and funny habits. In a flashy world of fast cars, rock ‘n’ roll, and Hollywood glitz, Yona drove a dented Chevette, cut his own hair, wore ugly discount clothing, and further mortified his son by, say, bringing his own travel shampoo bottle of Manischewitz Cream White Concord into restaurants because paying $3 for a glass of wine off the menu was “out of the question” …

Review: “My Father’s Paradise” (The Barnes & Noble Review)

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