Jordan Salama - STRANGER IN THE DESERT
Jordan Salama presents his new memoir about a writer exploring his family's Sephardic history, in conversation with Judy Bolton-Fasman!
Inspired by family lore, a young writer embarks on an epic quest through the Argentine Andes in search of a heritage spanning hemispheres and centuries, from the Jewish Levant to turn-of-the-century trade routes in South America.
One Thanksgiving afternoon at his grandparents’ house, Jordan Salama discovers a large binder stuffed with yellowing papers and old photographs—a five-hundred-year wandering history of his Arab-Jewish family, from Moorish Spain to Ottoman Syria to Argentina and beyond.
One story in particular captures his attention: that of his great-grandfather, a Syrian-born, Arabic-speaking Jewish immigrant to Argentina who in the 1920s worked as a traveling salesman in the Andes—and may have left behind forgotten descendants along the way. Encouraged by his grandfather, Jordan goes in search of these “Lost Salamas,” traveling more than a thousand miles up the spine of South America’s greatest mountain range.
Combining travelog, history, memoir, and reportage, Stranger in the Desert transports readers from the lonely plains of Patagonia to the breathtaking altiplano of the high Andes; from the old Jewish quarter of Damascus to today’s vibrant neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. It is also a fervent journey of self-discovery as Salama grapples with his own Jewish, Arab, and Latin American identities, interrogating the stories families tell themselves, and to what end.
Jordan Salama is a writer covering culture and the environment in the Americas. He is the author of Every Day the River Changes, a journey down Colombia's Río Magdalena, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2021. His essays and stories have appeared in National Geographic, The New York Times, Smithsonian, Scientific American, NPR's All Things Considered and other publications. Most recently, his story “The Candy Sellers,” an investigation into the lives of migrant families selling candy on the New York City subway, was on the cover of New York magazine. He lives in New York.
Judy Bolton-Fasman is the author of the memoir ASYLUM, a Newtonville Books staff pick and perennial bestseller. She is an excellent literary conversationalist! Judy has published essays and reviews in a variety of venues including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Cognoscenti, Brevity and Catapult. She has recently received a Pushcart Prize nomination and is a four-time recipient of the Simon Rockower Award for Essay from the American Jewish Press Association.
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Inspired by family lore, a young writer embarks on an epic quest through the Argentine Andes in search of a heritage spanning hemispheres and centuries, from the Jewish Levant to turn-of-the-century trade routes in South America
An exhilarating travelogue for a new generation about a journey along Colombia’s Magdalena River, exploring life by the banks of a majestic river now at risk, and how a country recovers from conflict.
"Richly observed." —Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review
How much do we really know about the lives of our parents and the secrets lodged in their past? Judy Bolton-Fasman's fascinating saga, "Asylum: A Memoir of Family Secrets," recounts the search for answers to the mysteries embedded in the lives of her Cuban-born mother, Matilde Alboukrek Bolton and her elusive, Yale-educated father, K. Harold Bolton.