The Scent of Jasmine: Coming of Age in Jerusalem and Damascus
In 2014, a year after retiring as founding director of the Arab American Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, Anan Ameri retrieved old, yellowed sheets of paper from a drawer in her home. They held recollections of growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s in Jerusalem and Damascus (and later in Amman) that she began writing down more than 20 years earlier. Distilled from those pages—and well worth the wait—this is Ameri’s soul-searching story of the trials and triumphs of her Syrian/Palestinian family as it navigated its way through tumultuous political times. From her first vivid memory as a three-year-old sent to the safety of her well-to-do maternal grandfather’s home in the Old City of Damascus during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, to her political awakening in the 1960s, Ameri’s narrative reflects the lively storytelling that she experienced when her large, extended Syrian family gathered in her grandfather’s home. “This warm tradition of conversational storytelling,” writes Ameri, “kept our memories, ties and resilience alive.” As does her heartfelt, engaging memoir.