Please join me on Wednesday, June 2nd when I welcome Jessica Jiji, author of Sweet Dates in Basra to Book Club Girl on Air! Sweet Dates in Basra is a a compelling, poignant, and unforgettable tale of friendship and family, set in Iraq during the second world war that brilliantly captures the atmosphere of a volatile Middle East during the previous century and pays tribute to the lost traditions of a once-idyllic world.
Just when her family should be arranging her marriage, Kathmiya Mahmoud, a young Marsh Arab maiden, is sent from her home in Iraq's idyllic countryside to the unfamiliar city of Basra, where she must survive on her paltry earnings as a servant. Her only asset—her exquisite beauty—brings more peril than peace. Worse, her mother appears to be keeping a secret about her own mysterious past, one that could threaten Kathmiya's destiny forever.
In this lost Iraq of the 1940s, a time of rich traditions and converging worlds, Kathmiya meets Shafiq, a Jewish boy whose brotherhood with his Muslim neighbor Omar proves that religion is no barrier to friendship. But in a world where loss of honor is punishable by death, the closeness that grows between Kathmiya and Shafiq becomes dangerous as a doomed love takes root. When British warplanes begin bombing Iraq and the country's long-simmering tensions explode, the power of an unbreakable boyhood bond and a transcendent love must overcome the deepening fractures of a collapsing society.
Set during the tumultuous years surrounding the Second World War, Sweet Dates in Basra is the redemptive story of two very different cultures, and a powerful reminder that no walls can confine the human spirit.
Watch the video below to learn about Jiji's inspiration behind the novel, browse inside the book, check out the reading group guide and set your reminder for the show at 7 pm ET on Wednesday June 2nd. The first ten people who comment that they would like to participate in the show on June 2nd will receive a free copy of the book!