Life Without a Recipe: Book summary and reviews of Life Without a Recipe by Diana Abu-Jaber

Life Without a Recipe

A Memoir of Food and Family

by Diana Abu-Jaber

Life Without a Recipe by Diana Abu-Jaber X
Life Without a Recipe by Diana Abu-Jaber
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2016
    272 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

"With a tenderness that never dips into nostalgia, Abu-Jaber weaves together the stories of those closest to her... .Abu-Jaber renders her relationships to both food and family in rich, joyful detail." - Booklist

On one side, there is Grace: prize-winning author Diana Abu-Jaber's tough, independent sugar-fiend of a German grandmother, wielding a suitcase full of holiday cookies. On the other, Bud: a flamboyant, spice-obsessed Arab father, full of passionate argument. The two could not agree on anything: not about food, work, or especially about what Diana should do with her life. Grace warned her away from children. Bud wanted her married above all - even if he had to provide the ring. Caught between cultures and lavished with contradictory "advice" from both sides of her family, Diana spent years learning how to ignore others' well-intentioned prescriptions.

Hilarious, gorgeously written, poignant, and wise, Life Without a Recipe is Diana's celebration of journeying without a map, of learning to ignore the script and improvise, of escaping family and making family on one's own terms. As Diana discovers, however, building confidence in one's own path sometimes takes a mistaken marriage or two - or in her case, three: to a longhaired boy-poet, to a dashing deconstructionist literary scholar, and finally to her steadfast, outdoors-loving Scott. It also takes a good deal of angst (was it possible to have a serious writing career and be a mother?) and, even when she knew what she wanted (the craziest thing, in one's late forties: a baby!), the nerve to pursue it.

Finally, fearlessly independent like the Grace she's named after, Diana and Scott's daughter Gracie will heal all the old battles with Bud and, like her writer-mom, learn to cook up a life without a recipe.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"With a tenderness that never dips into nostalgia, Abu-Jaber weaves together the stories of those closest to her... .Abu-Jaber renders her relationships to both food and family in rich, joyful detail." - Booklist

"[A] deliciously candid story... Generously seasoned by an abiding love of food and a keen eye for the nuances of human relationships, this book is a reminder that however unpredictable it may be, life is a dish to be savored. A delectably warm and wise memoir." - Kirkus

"A vivid story of one writer's journey to build a creative life, one lived 'without recipes,' this book will be indispensable to anyone trying to forge their own truer path." - Ruth Reichl

"Wonderfully written, honest, funny, and deeply heart-touching, Diana Abu-Jaber's memoir is a joyous read that speaks to the creative spirit in us all." - Heidi W. Durrow, New York Times best-selling author of The Girl Who Fell from the Sky

"Diana Abu-Jaber writes trenchantly and gorgeously about family, marriage, and motherhood with insights and connections that feel hard-won and richly earned." - Kate Christensen, author of Blue Plate Special and The Great Man

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Author Information

Diana Abu-Jaber Author Biography

Diana Abu-Jaber is the author of several novels, including Arabian Jazz, Crescent, and Birds of Paradise. Crescent was awarded the 2004 PEN Center USA Award for Literary Fiction and the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award and was named one of the twenty best novels of 2003 by The Christian Science Monitor. Arabian Jazz won the 1994 Oregon Book Award and was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award.

She is also the author of a memoir, The Language of Baklava.

She teaches at Portland State University and divides her time between Portland and Miami.

Author Interview
Link to Diana Abu-Jaber's Website

Name Pronunciation
Diana Abu-Jaber: AH-boo JAH-ber

Other books by Diana Abu-Jaber at BookBrowse
  • Origin jacket
  • Crescent jacket
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