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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  1,671 ratings  ·  256 reviews
An unforgettable tale of food, feelings and geography, CRESCENT is a love-story explored in all its complicated glory and heartbreaking sadness.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 7th 2004 by Pan MacMillan (first published April 1st 2003)
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Food-Related Fiction
29th out of 336 books — 442 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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This book's description of Arabs, particularly students and academics, who live in the diaspora is heartbreakingly accurate. Abu-Jaber's descriptions are both intense and palpable. Just as you can taste the mujadara, so too can you feel the homesickness of the characters. Most are suffering from the type of homesickness that anyone plucked from their native home and transplanted into a foreign land would suffer. Sirine, the protagonist, suffers from a different kind of homesickness. Hers is a co ...more
Magnificent. Absolutely divine -- subtle, multilayered, nuanced, politically-set, lyrical, bewitching, compelling and *delicious* fiction from an author who teaches down the road from me at PSU. I've seen her name for years, probably passed her in the halls of the lit dept., but somehow never gave her a try until just this week -- thank you, Annie Bloom's, for your "Northwest Writers" shelf! All I can say in the thirty seconds I have left is: it's got mystery, family, politics, tragedy, romance, ...more
Nov 04, 2007 Sunshine rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: other halfies, other middle easterners in america
This book gets an extra star (its fourth) for telling a story of a fair, blond iraqi-american woman born and bred in L.A., working an Arab kitchen in Tehrangeles.

There are few, very few, pieces of fiction of second-generation arabs/persians/muslims in the states. (lots of memoir, yes, - and some crap, like roth's lovely little take - but very little fiction) So this gets extra points for filling a deep whole on the shelf. Also gets that extra star for repping us halfies! Another deep hole on my
Ronya Misleh
I really enjoyed this one. Abu-Jaber did a great job infusing Arab culture (language, art, food, poetry) into a story set in LA. The love story, too, was refreshing--the characters were much older. It was interesting to me because an unmarried Arab woman in her late 30s is not generally someone who is looked upon with as much awe and respect as was Sirine. Like others, I was not a fan of Abu-Jaber's structure and thought that the fable that continued from the beginning of one chapter to another ...more
One of the most enjoyable books I've ever read. Now I would like to read other books by this author. Loved the characters - some were quirky, some mysterious, all believable. Sirene is in her late 30s, the daughter of an Iraqi father and American mother. She works as a cook in an Arab restaurant in Los Angeles. Following the death of her parents, she was raised by her uncle, a wonderful man who likes to tell stories. So intertwined with the story of Sirene is a fable made up by her uncle about s ...more
I admit it, I'm such a design whore that I have a hard time NOT choosing a book by its cover. Sometimes I really luck out, as was the case with this PSU professor's book. A beautifully written, intensely rich and evocative book about love, family, food, and finding your place. Which is a really crappy description but somehow accurate.
OK. So. This is the blurb on Amazon:

"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
Oct 12, 2007 Taina rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone wanting to read something on an airplane
Again, this book proves that it is possible to take a cheesy romance novel and pad it up with talk of food and the political situation, making it readable, but never more than that.
Beyond the DELICIOUS food stuff, this book really changed the way I thought about what it means to live in exile. Compelling all the way through, which is rare.
I spent much of my time reading this novel in a sensory haze. The writing herein is plush, evocative, and sensuous. Sirine, Han, Nathan, and Aziz aren't always likable, but they exist on so many dimensions that we forgive them their flaws. The story, which might have been soap-operatic in less capable hands, is intricate, complex.

One passage of particular interest to me, from both a narrative and feminist standpoint, comes when Sirine stumbles across some candid photographs of her and Han toget
I liked everything in this book except the love story, which I thought was rather slow moving. I didn't fully understand why an Iraqi professor who is a famous translator, would fall instantly in love with a 40 year old half-Iraqi woman brought up in LA, who has spent her somewhat sheltered life with her uncle & the staff of the Lebanese cafe where she works as a chef.
But I think the love story was secondary to the different stories of loneliness. Whether they are exiled from a country or f
At the end of my edition of this book was an interview with the author, and she confesses her model for her novel was the Shakespearian play, Othello. I think that is the key to the problems I had with the book - characters undertaking dramatic actions for no apparent reason and having all the secrets behind their motivations only revealed at the end. Worked for Shakespeare, but I'm not so sure if it works for a modern novel. I wanted to know why, for example, Sirine was so enchanted with Hanif ...more
Isla McKetta
Sometimes you just want a book that's easy to read, interesting, and incredibly well-written. This book hits all three marks. Read the full review on my blog to find out how I learned a little about the Iraqi-American culture, fell in love with Sirine and Han, and developed a wicked craving for lentils.
Luna Selene
I'll be thoroughly honest, it took a lot of effort to finish this book. I really had to push through it. I found too much of it contrived, and I really only got through it by the little chapter-opening stories, which turned out to be just as contrived in the end. The "love story" in this book quickly became overbearing, so much so that I generally became annoyed with the constant appearance of Hanif. I just really wasn't impressed by not only the writing, but the development of the story, and I ...more
What a beautifully written book - and achingly beautiful love story. I thoroughly enjoyed Crescent - a sweet, at times sad, at times funny tale of life and love told from the perspective of Middle-Easterners living in Los Angeles.

The novel centers on Sirine, a half-American/half-Arab chef at a small Lebanese cafe in a primarily Persian and Arab-American community who has grown up in the United States and falls in love with an Iraqui exile. It has just enough intrigue to keep the reader page-tur
This book was highly recommended and rated well, but I found the main character to be totally uninteresting. Well, she liked to cook, but that seemed to be all. She cooked lamb ... a lot. If you like reading about uninteresting people cooking lamb, read this book. Some other stuff happened too, but it wasn't interesting either.
Jul 23, 2007 Clare rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who lke food better than sense
Shelves: blockbookgroup
This was the first book I read for my block's book group, and what an inauspicious beginning it was. The intertwined stories were meandering and dull. The heroine had nothing interesting to say, nothing that made me care about her relationships or life whatsoever. Some of the recipes sounded pretty good, though.
With a mash-up of telenovela and framed-stories genres, Crescent is a book for those who are patient. Having said this, I'm not at all suggesting that this book is boring and stretched like telenovelas or never-ending like framed-stories. This is a novel that has the combination of style, imagination, wisdom, and meta-commentary.

In this novel, we encounter Sirine, a 39-year old Arab-American woman who doesn't really see herself as an Arab-American woman when the novel begins. She has the signat
A well written but less than compelling story.
Genine Franklin-Clark

A lovely, sad, joyful lyrical, sensual read.
Argh this book was SO bad I don't even know where to start....In a word, this book is glib. It talks and talks and talks and says NOTHING.

Okay let's start with the main character: Sirine. Somehow she's supposed to be the heroine of the story, but she doesn't do anything. Like, quite literally, she does NOTHING in this book. I don't know what she contributes to the plot (not that there's much of that either). She cooks a bunch, that she does. But she never has anything interesting to say, or even
I first read this book in 2006, when Diana Abu-Jaber came to Eugene on a book tour for her food memoir, The Language of Baklava. I was able to participate in a student writing workshop that she lead (amazing experience!), hear her speak a couple of times, and attend a large reading group at the local library where my own English professor spoke about the book. I don't know if I have ever seen so many people so truly excited (exuberant, actually!) about a book, and her readings are the only ones ...more
Ken Deshaies
I believe I have found a new favorite author. Diana Abu-Jabar, much like the protagonist in her novel, conveys in sensuous, yet pragmatic prose the day-to-day routine of a chef in a mid-east restaurant in Los Angeles, along with her personal feelings about family, love, her connection to Iraq, and her inability to understand, at times, her own shortcomings in navigating the complex world around her.

Sirine is a 39-year-old single woman of mixed parents (an Iraqi and an American) who has never be
An American chef of Iraqi heritage works at a Middle Eastern cafe and allows her cooking, her friends, and her uncle to be her world - until she is introduced to a handsome Iraqi professor with whom she begins a passionate love affair. Due to his influence - his longing for home and frustrations with political exile - she begins exploring her own Iraqi heritage through food, family history, the news, and Islam.

This book made me hungry for Middle Eastern fare! The food descriptions are mouth-wate
Whoa, I marked this one as "read" and reviewed it weeks after I finished it, so I hope this review holds up. Crescent is a decent book--the love story is believable and the foodie parts of divine, but I think it ran about 70 pages too long and I wasn't a huge fan of the whole story-within-a-story thing going on.

Sirine, a second-generation Iraqi-American chef at a Lebanese restaurant, has never really been in love until she meets Han, a handsome professor from Baghdad. His past is murky, but she
Ron Charles
Diana Abu-Jaber couldn't have imagined that we'd be reading her lush romance about lonely Iraqis by the light of Baghdad burning. Her publisher must be nervous about the political climate, but it's refreshing to see Iraqis outside "the axis of evil." In Crescent, they're struck by Cupid's arrows instead of Tomahawk missiles.

The story takes place in Los Angeles, but like the rest of us at the moment, every character is fixated on the Middle East. Arab students and professors congregate at Nadia's
When a romance novel take a cultural twist, you end up with Diana Abu-Jaber’s Crescent. In my opinion, this novel was engaging and interesting enough, and included enough global perspective, that I would recommend others read it. However, this novel is not a stand out, and came off quite plain, although pleasant.

Crescent’s main plotline revolves around beautiful Sirine and her love interest Han, who originally was from Iraq .They meet in the restaurant where Sirine works as a chef in “Tehrangele
Named as one of the 20 best books of 2003 by the Christian Science Monitor and winner of the 2004 PEN Center USA Award for Literacy and the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award , Crescent­ is a delicious love story set in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, an area often referred to as Teherangeles­ .

Sirine is the chef at Nadia’s Café, a Lebanese restaurant in the heart of the predominantly Iranian neighborhood of Westwood. Sirine’s father, an Iraqi expatriot, and her American
Pamela Pickering
I'm a little conflicted on this one and I'm not sure why. (Okay, I know why in some ways because I just wanted to throw the book across the room and yell AARGH!) The writing style was a little different. It was as if each noun required a descriptor (a little annoying at first). After I got the rhythm of the writing it went a little quicker. At some times I felt really invested in the characters (the writer wrote a passage regarding the lead character, Sirina, that seemed to be written about me) ...more
You have to read this book. I'm sure you hear this all the time, but honestly, you have to read this book. It was a class assignment in my college class Magical Realism and Women Studies. I liked the books I read in that class, but this is the only one I have kept and read and reread over the years. This book is truly magical. Sirine is unmarried, over 40 cook in a small middle eastern restaurant leading an uneventful life and living with her Uncle. An orphan, she lives in her own little bubble ...more
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Diana Abu-Jaber is the award-winning author of Origin, Crescent, Arabian Jazz, and The Language of Baklava. Her writing has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Ms., Salon, Vogue, Gourmet, the New York Times, The Nation, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. She divides her time between Coral Gables, Florida, and Portland, Oregon.

More about Diana Abu-Jaber...
The Language of Baklava: A Memoir Birds of Paradise Origin Arabian Jazz Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experience

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“...tasting a piece of bread that someone bought is like looking at that person, but tasting a piece of bread that they baked is like looking out of their eyes.” 9 likes
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