Dream Homes From Cairo to Katrina
An Exile's JourneyBook - 2008
An Egyptian-Jewish Under the Tuscan Sun , Dream Homes chronicles Joyce Zonana's quest to find a sense of home among people, foods, and places as far from her native Cairo as Oklahoma and Katrina-stricken New Orleans.
After the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, newlyweds Felix and Nellie Zonana flee Cairo with their infant daughter Joyce, ending up in Brooklyn. Growing up, Joyce swiftly realizes that her Jewish family and their Egyptian culture are neither typically American nor typically American-Jewish; they eat kobeba instead of kugel and speak French instead of Yiddish. Struggling with her feelings of isolation from other Americans and frustrated by never getting full access to Egyptian-Jewish culture, Zonana strikes out on a life-long journey to find her place in the world.
She meets her extended family living in Colombia and Brazil and travels to Cairo to get a glimpse of her parents' past. After she and her mother survive the devastation of Katrina, Zonana comes to see that "home" is not a location, but a spiritual state of mind. Zonana's heritage and quest are also evoked in numerous photos and family recipes.
Joyce Zonana earned her PhD in English at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently an associate professor of English and women's studies at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY. Before coming to BMCC, she taught for fifteen years at the University of New Orleans, where she was also the director of women's studies.