Dream Homes: From Cairo to Katrina, An Exile's Journey by Joyce Zonana





"Juicy with lived experience, lush with imagery and ideas, Dream Homes carries us along through the spaces that make up a woman's life" -- Rosemary Daniell, author of Secrets of the Zona Rosa


    " A hungry story, longing to be told again and again, moving across vast landscapes of the heart." --  Minrose Gwin, author of Wishing for Snow: A Memoir

"At once lament, elegy, and song . . . luminous." -- Carol P. Christ, author of She Who Changes




Joyce Zonana is an Associate Professor of English at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York.  She has taught at the University of Oklahoma, the University of New Orleans, Rowan University, and Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science.  Her essays and articles have appeared in numerous scholarly and literary journals, including Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, Signs, Meridians, Victorian Poetry, and the Hudson Review.  She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
















Published in August 2008  by The Feminist Press, Dream Homes  is a classic  immigrant coming-of-age narrative with a few  distinctive  differences.  The third in the Reuben/Rifkin Jewish Women Writers Series, a joint project of the Feminist Press and the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the carefully-crafted  memoir recounts the struggles of an Egyptian-Jewish American as she forges an identity that bridges a number of apparent divides--Muslim and Jewish, gay and straight, Eastern and Western, urban and suburban, dutiful daughter and independent woman.  As she lives and then tells her own story,  Zonana also comes to terms with and tells the stories of her family of displaced Arab-Jews.  We meet a domineering and destructive paternal grandmother,  a grieving yet loving maternal grandmother, numerous cousins in Colombia and Brazil, and resilient parents wounded--but not destroyed--by loss.  


Although Zonana temporarily abandons this family and her complex heritage in her effort to become "American," she embraces them again as she seeks home in places as far from her native Cairo as Oklahoma and New Orleans.  Along her way she finds sustenance in books, in foods, in people, and, to her surprise, in the landscape and culture of indigenous Americans.  At fifty, she travels to Egypt to meet  the Jews who chose to remain in Cairo and Alexandria despite  the huge cultural changes inaugurated in the 1940s and 1950s by the establishment of Israel and the Egyptian Revolution.  And after the devastation of Katrina, she returns with her mother to New York to take up the life she had left thirty years earlier.


"Unlike the dominant narrative found in memoirs written by Egyptian Jews in the U.S. whose emphasis is on the powerful religious and historical themes of getting 'out of Egypt,' Zonana offers a more nuanced counter narrative underlining the survival of the Egyptian roots of her Jewish family in the U.S. It is very moving to read about her determined effort to reconstruct these personal fragments, not by choosing one home/identity over another, but through the integration of the two in today's increasingly multicultural world."  

Mervat F. Hatem, Professor of Political Science, Howard University, President, Middle Eastern Studies Association

"A lush and beautiful read!"

Emily Toth, Professor of Literature, Louisiana State University 

Order your copy of Dream Homes now!

Read an excerpt of Dream Homes here.