Monday, January 31, 2011

LATE FOR TEA AT THE DEER PALACE: REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY ENDED
LATE FOR TEA AT 
THE DEER PALACE
The Lost Dreams of My Iraqi Family
BY TAMARA CHALABI

ABOUT THE BOOK:
In the tradition of Jung Chang’s Wild Swans and Bhutto Benazir’s Reconciliation comes Tamara Chalabi’s unique memoir of returning to her family’s homeland, Iraq. In this epic story of one daughter’s journey through the annals of her family’s tumultuous history, Chalabi’s powerful voice and piercing vision illuminate her country and its people as never before.

For Tamara Chalabi, Iraq is more than a country of war and controversy; it is a place of poignant memory. For much of the twentieth century, the Chalabis were among the most influential families in Iraq. In the 1920s they were at the forefront of their country's awakening to modernity, and they played an integral part in the establishment of its monarchy. As courtiers, politicians, businessmen, rebels, merchants, and scholars, the Chalabis enjoyed vast privilege until the end of the 1950s, when they were forced to flee to the land of exile, myth, and imagination, where their beloved homeland took on the quality of a phantom country. In between came rebellions, foreign interventions, and the transformative development of oil wealth.

But in 2003, after a lifetime of exile, Tamara arrived in Baghdad just ten days after the city's fall, in the company of her father, Ahmad Chalabi, a leading opposition figure against the Saddam regime. Late for Tea at the Deer Palace chronicles a daughter's return to a homeland she'd known only through stories and her own imagination. As she investigates four generations of her family's history, Tamara offers a rich portrait of Middle Eastern family life and a provocative look at a lost Iraq. The story is populated by an array of unforgettable characters, among them Tamara's great-grandfather Abdul Hussein Chalabi, who as a member of the Ottoman parliament witnessed the end of the empire in Baghdad and the birth of the modern Iraqi state at the hands of the British; her grandfather Abdul Hadi Chalabi, who became one of the wealthiest men in Iraq and had strong ties with the British during World War II; and her grandmother Bibi, a grande dame who presided over Iraq's social and political life during Baghdad's 1920s and '30s heyday as the Paris of the Middle East.

At once intimate and magisterial, Late for Tea at the Deer Palace vividly captures the rich, overlooked history of a country that has been uprooted by war and a family that has persevered by never forgetting its dreams or its past.
TO READ AN EXCERPT OF THE BOOK, GO TO HARPER COLLINS "BROWSE INSIDE" HERE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tamara Chalabi holds a PhD in history from Harvard University. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, Slate, and The Sunday Times, among other publications. 
PRAISE FOR LATE FOR TEA AT THE DEER PALACE:
“It’s an admirable endeavour to have Iraq addressed by someone who is in so many ways able to approach it from two worlds. . . . Tamara Chalabi has the stuff, in every sense, that is needful to undertake this.”
— Christopher Hitchens
 Through this vibrant literary memoir, readers learn about Iraq’s history and a notable family’s experience of the country, no matter how far away. Recommended for general readers.”
— Library Journal
 
“An absorbing social history of Iraq. . .A work of exile literature, beautifully written, rich with human detail as only personal family histories can be.”
— New York Times Book Review
 
One small way to rebuild a country after war may be to hold a picture of its true beauty, which is what Chalabi does.
— The Los Angeles Times
 
A sweeping, enchanting memoir. . . Late for Tea at the Deer Palace deftly combines elements of history and memoir, but shines most when the author lets the characters’ stories tell the history of Iraq.
— The Associated Press

MY REVIEW:
Tamara Chalabi’s LATE FOR TEA AT THE DEER PALACE is a rich story of Chalabi’s family blended into the history of Iraq that reminded me so much of the extraordinary experience I had reading THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini. Now one of my favorite books, THE KITE RUNNER at first scared me as I was put off by the history aspect and what I thought would be too much cultural background of no interest to me. Oh, did Mr. Hosseini prove me wrong as I took the leap and wound up reading a book I never wanted to have end, and one that still haunts me to this day.

So now, I can say Tamara Chalabi has perhaps created that very same kind of experience with LATE FOR TEA AT THE DEER PALACE. At first, as I saw the subtitle of "The Lost Dreams of My Iraqi Family" I thought it a war story about Iraq that surely was filled with history that is not a genre I enjoy. THEN, I saw lists of phrases to use for translation in the back, a chronological time line of the history the story covers, the prologue that seemed to be lengthy historical facts, and I was put off. Lucky for me, I remembered the feeling I had before I read THE KITE RUNNER, and so I tackled the book. I checked and realized all the lists, index, time lines, etc. in the back of the book were there to help but not part of what I had to know or read to enjoy the story. I skimmed the prologue and realized this was merely background to set up the story of the Chalabi family and how it fit into the history of Iraq starting from the time that the Ottoman empire was ending and winding through Iraq’s history to present day.

The Chalabi were well educated Shi’a Iraqi and ran in the most respected social circles with important jobs in business as well as the government. Tamara’s great-grandfather, Abdul Hussein Chalabi, played an important part in the formation of Iraq as a nation. Upon Great Britain granting Iraq independence, the Chalabi’s place in society was well respected and very influential. The culture and foods and pictures and beautifully written, fascinating characters tell the story of the Chalabi family while also giving readers the history of this country.

As a reader, I became wrapped up in characters like Bibi, who was born in 1900; from her youth to her arranged marriage, and then on to her daughters born around 1925 up through the women of the family born in the 1970’s. Their personalities, self-esteem, and bravery gave the story a background of society through all that time. What did they eat and what meaning did some foods have? How did they entertain themselves and care for their homes and children? What did their homes physically look like and how did they run? What part did not only the politicians play in their lives, but every day things like the weather and  customs and clothing. From imposed marriages to having an opinion of their own, LATE FOR TEA AT THE DEER PALACE draws a wonderful picture of these fascinating characters and their lives. The author uses personal history, family stories, and photographs to provide the factual background in a narrative way. It is a story you will become enthralled with and find it hard to put down. I highly recommend LATE FOR TEA AT THE DEER PALACE and also think book clubs would really enjoy the discussion and joy from reading this book. 
 

If you can't wait to try and win, I have a link up to buy it in the right side bar. 
GIVEAWAY

THANKS TO MARK AND MY GOOD FRIENDS AT
HARPER COLLINS, I HAVE 3 COPIES OF THIS
FASCINATING SAGA TO GIVE AWAY 
 
--U.S. AND CANADIAN RESIDENTS ONLY
--NO P. O. BOXES
---INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
IN CASE YOU WIN!
--ALL COMMENTS MUST BE SEPARATE TO
COUNT AS MORE THAN ONE!

HOW TO ENTER:

+1 ENTRY: COMMENT ON WHAT YOU READ ABOVE, AND THE VIDEO YOU LISTENED TO, THAT MADE YOU WANT TO WIN THIS BOOK

+1 MORE ENTRY: BLOG OR TWEET ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY AND COME BACK AND LEAVE A LINK THAT I CAN FOLLOW

+1 MORE ENTRY: COMMENT ON ONE WAY THAT YOU FOLLOW MY BLOG. IF YOU ARE A GOOGLE FRIEND CONNECT FOLLOWER GIVE YOURSELF +2 ENTRIES. YOU MAY ALSO GIVE YOURSELF +1 ENTRY FOR ANY OTHER WAY THAT YOU FOLLOW...BE SURE TO COMMENT SEPARATELY

+1 (or +?) MORE ENTRIES: COMMENT IF YOU ENTERED ANY OF THE OTHER CURRENT GIVEAWAYS. IF YOU DID, PLEASE COMMENT SEPARATELY ON EACH ONE YOU HAVE ENTERED.

GIVEAWAY ENDS AT
6 PM, EST, FEBRUARY 16!
GOOD LUCK!   

144 comments:

PoCoKat said...

Sounds like an amazing book about Iraq.

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Steve Capell said...

I totally agree with you that The Kite Runner was an absolutely awesome read. This review sounds equally enticing so I eagerly throw my name to wind and hope for the best.

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Anonymous said...

Makes me even more interested in reading this book!

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debbie said...

It sounds like it weaves their history with a interesting story. I would love to read it.
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debbie said...

I am a gfc follower.
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gfc follower 2
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I am a email subscriber.
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Carol N Wong said...

Reading the section from the book and watching the video, makes me really want to read this book. It offers a look at the customs, food,
social life and influence of four generations of an Iraqi family. This brings back a memory to me of an Iraqi student in one of my classes. It was an internship class in counseling so it only had five students. I remember that he brought a selection of sweets and other treats to our class as a way of being hospitable. Back then, I did not have as much self confidence as I do now. I remember him defending me against our teacher's careless joke.

I would definitely love to read this book!

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Carol N Wong said...

I tweeted. My Twitter name is Carolee888.

http://bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com/ Giveaway of 'Late For Tea At The Deer Park'

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Carol N Wong said...

I follow with Google Friend Connect
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I follow with Google Friend Connect #2.

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petite said...

I am fascinated with this compelling story. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

I am a follower. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

petite said...

I am a follower. +2. rojosho(at)hotmail(dot)com

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traveler said...

This book sounds memorable and utterly captivating. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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Amber said...

Just reading the review made me realize how little I know about Iraq and I'm always trying to learn more about other cultures.
Thank you for the giveaway :)
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Amber said...

I follow your blog with google friend connect
Thank you for the giveaway :)
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#1

Amber said...

I follow your blog with google friend connect
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Charleydog said...

The story is based in Iraq. I am very interested in stories based in countries that have seen major upheavals in my life time.

Please enter my name in the giveaway for the book. Thanks!

pboylecharley AT hotmail DOT com

sos said...

I want to know more about Iraq beyond what we read in the papers
this sounds interesting

Tore said...

Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book. Tore923@aol.com

Deborah said...

Your comparison of this book to the emotions raised in "The Kite Runner" is thing that made me want to read this book.

Deborah said...

I shared on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/AsTheNight/status/32558395915509761 .

Deborah said...

I follow you on Twitter @AsTheNight.

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I follow you with Google Friend Connect (entry 1).

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I follow you with Google Friend Connect (entry 2).

Margie said...

I really enjoy memoirs and books set in other cultures, so this one sounds very intriguing.

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entered for Secrets to the Grave
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entered for Care and Maintenance of Friendship
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dag888888 said...

Felt the same way about The Kite Runner. Your assurance to be patient and to give this lovely book a chance made me want to read it.

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Google follower #1

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Alyce said...

This books sound fascinating - both the cultural history of the family and their return to Iraq.

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Alyce said...

I follow on GFC.

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I follow on Twitter.

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Meredith said...

I loved the Kite Runner too! I'm sure I'd like this book then! Another one that I read that was somewhat similar was A Thousand Splendid Suns. I also thought I might be put off by the cultural differences, but instead saw it as a learning experience.

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Meredith said...

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Lisa R/alterlisa said...

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Pamela Keener said...

I love reading about many generations of a family and how they got to the present. This sounds like an intriguing read.
Love & Hugs,
Pam
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Pamela Keener said...

I follow your blog via GFC
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I follow your blog via GFC Post # 2
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I am an e-mail subscriber to your blog.
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Amy said...

I'd love to read this book because I think it may provide a fascinating view of Iraq from a woman who approaches her family's original culture from her home in the US. I am interested in learning about Tamara Chalabi's Iraq as the home of her family and learning what she thinks about the way things are today.

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Amy said...

+2 I am a Google Friend Connect follower

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+1 I am a Facebook faollower

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I follow you on Networked blogs (Amy M.)

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I follow you on Twitter (Amestir)

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+1 I'm an email subscriber to your blog
(My email address for blog 'scripts is aimala02@yahoo.com)

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Amy said...

I entered the giveaway for Georgia Bottoms


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bison61 said...

four generations of her family's history-sounds interesting

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Debbie said...

I love books like this set in an other country and I've loved the ones I've read set in the Middle East.
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Debbie said...

gfc follower.
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gfc follower entry 2
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follow through rss feed to google reader.
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Laura said...

Sounds fantastic. Please enter me.

g.g. said...

This reminds me of Kite Runner as well and would love to read it


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g.g. said...

I entered Directive 51

Norm

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g.g. said...

I subscribe via email



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g.g. said...

I also follow on GFC


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g.g. said...

I also follow on GFC 2

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Christina said...

Christina - xristya@rock.com - Reading the review and watching the video made me realize how different a culture the Iraqi culture is from our American one. I'd love to read it! Recently I read The Good Daughter which was about Persia also.

Anonymous said...

It is referenced in regard to "The Kite Runner"!

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Anonymous said...

It sounds like an interesting book and I like reading about other cultures.
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Erin Cook said...

The introduction of the book sounds really interesting

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I am a google follower
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susan1215 said...

Sounds like an interesting book

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follow via GFC #1

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follow via GFC #2

dvice12 said...

I'd like this because it sounds epic and really interesting

susansmoaks said...

i would love to read this, very interesting
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susansmoaks said...

follower #1
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susansmoaks said...

followe r#2
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Sam said...

I haven't read many books concerning the Middle East. I would certainly like to, though!

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purango said...

It sounds like a very interesting book about one's return to their homeland and the discovery of their country's past. Set in Iraq it is very interesting as it is is set in the midst of this country's tremendous vhanges. garrettsambo@aol.com

purango said...

I follow with Google Friend Connect. garrettsambo@aol.com

Pamela S said...

I'm glad I read your review or I might have been scared off too! I loved Khalid Hosseini's other book "A Thousand Splendid Suns"...one of my favorite books ever....so if this is similar, I'm all in! Sounds great. Thanks so much! pamelashockley(AT)aol(DOT)com

Pamela S said...

Long time follower on GFC pamelashockley

Thanks so much! pamelashockley(AT)aol(DOT)com

Pamela S said...

Long time follower on GFC pamelashockley
Entry#2.

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Atreau said...

I've read similar books on the same topic and this one sounds very interesting!

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