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Day of Honey

Day of Honey

A Memoir of Food, Love, and War

  • reading group guide
  • freshman reading
American Book Award Winner
Winner of Books for a Better Life Award (First Book)
James Beard Foundation Award Nominee
BNN Discover Awards, second place nonfiction

IN THE FALL OF 2003, AS IRAQ DESCENDED INTO CIVIL WAR, Annia Ciezadlo spent her honeymoon in Baghdad. For the next six years, she lived in Baghdad and Beirut, where she dodged bullets during sectarian street battles, chronicled the Arab world’s first peaceful revolution, and watched Hezbollah commandos invade her Beirut neighborhood. Throughout all of it, she broke bread with Sunnis and Shiites, warlords and refugees, matriarchs and mullahs. Day of Honey is her story of the hunger for food and friendship during wartime—a communion that feeds the soul as much as the body.

In lush, fiercely intelligent prose, Ciezadlo uses food and the rituals of eating to uncover a vibrant Middle East most Americans never see. We get to know people like Roaa, a young Kurdish woman whose world shrinks under occupation to her own kitchen walls; Abu Rifaat, a Baghdad book lover who spends his days eavesdropping in the ancient city’s legendary cafés; and the unforgettable Umm Hassane, Ciezadlo’s sardonic Lebanese mother-in-law, who teaches her to cook rare family recipes (included in a mouthwatering appendix of Middle Eastern comfort food). From dinner in downtown Beirut to underground book clubs in Baghdad, Day of Honey is a profound exploration of everyday survival—a moving testament to the power of love and generosity to transcend the misery of war.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 416 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416583943 | 
  • February 2012
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Video

Simple Middle Eastern Cuisine with Annia Ciezadlo

The author of Day of Honey shares her mother-in-law's recipes from Beirut.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

The Siege


HE WAS ONE of an endangered species: among the few white, native-born cab drivers left in New York. Meaty, middle-aged, face like a potato. A Donegal tweed driving cap. He pulled up beside me, drew down the window, and growled out of the corner of his mouth: “You wanna ride?”

We rode in silence until we reached Atlantic Avenue. “You see this street?” he said, waving a massive hand at the windshield. “They’re all Arabs on this street.”

He was right, more or less. The conquest began in the late 1800s, as the Ottoman Empire waned and the... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Day of Honey includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Annia Ciezadlo. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


INTRODUCTION


In the fall of 2003, Annia Ciezadlo spent her honeymoon in Baghdad. Determined to make a life and a career in the Middle East with her new Lebanese husband, Annia spent the next six years in Beirut and Baghdad, cooking and eating with Shiites and Sunnis, refugees and warlords, matriarchs and mullahs. It is from these meals that Annia discovers what she calls a “shadow war”—a hidden conflict that slowly destroys lives, divides families, and poisons daily life. In war zones, the precious ordinariness of cooking takes on new meaning. From hurried meals accompanied by gunfire to lavish family feasts, Annia discovers that civilians use food to feed the soul as much as the body in times of war.

QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION

  1. Day of Honey opens with an introduction, titled “The Siege,” that takes place soon after 9/11 in New York City. Why do you think Annia begins her memoir here, with a taxi ride down Brooklyn’s Atlantic Avenue? How does this
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About the Author

Annia Ciezadlo
Photo by Mohamad Bazzi

Annia Ciezadlo

Annia Ciezadlo received her M.A. in journalism from New York University in 2000. In late 2003, she left New York for Baghdad, where she worked for The Christian Science Monitor. She has also written about culture, politics, and the Middle East for The New Republic, The Nation, The Washington Post, the National Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Observer, and Lebanon's Daily Star. Annia lives somewhere between New York and Beirut, with her husband, the journalist Mohamad Bazzi.

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