Searching for Zion
Emily Raboteau (Author)
Description"A brilliant illustration of the ways in which race is an artificial construct that, like beauty, is often a matter of perspective."--The Wall Street Journal "Frank and expansive . . . Each impressionistic, deeply personal vignette is a building block, detailing [Raboteau's] far-flung search for 'home'--a 'promised land' that's as brick-and-mortar tangible as it is spiritually confirming."--Chicago Tribune A decade in the making, Emily Raboteau's Searching for Zion takes readers around the world on an unexpected adventure of faith. Both one woman's quest for a place to call "home" and an investigation into a people's search for the Promised Land, this landmark work of creative nonfiction is a trenchant inquiry into contemporary and historical ethnic displacement. At twenty-three, Raboteau traveled to Israel to visit her childhood best friend. While her friend appeared to have found a place to belong, Raboteau couldn't relate. As a biracial woman from a country still divided along racial lines, she'd never felt at home in America, unable to find her "Zion," which she defined as a metaphor for freedom. But in Israel, the Jewish Zion, Raboteau was surprised to discover black Jews. Inspired by their exodus, Raboteau sought out other black communities that had left home in search of a Promised Land. Her question for them is the same she asks herself: have you found the home you're looking for? On this ten-year journey back in time and across the globe, Raboteau visits Jamaica, Ethiopia, Ghana, and the American South to explore the complex and contradictory perspectives of Black Zionists. She talks to Rastafarians, African Hebrew Israelites, Evangelicals and Ethiopian Jews, and Katrina transplants from her own family, overturning our ideas of place and patriotism, and displacement and dispossession, in a disarmingly honest and refreshingly brave take on the pull of the story of Exodus.
February 11, 2014
5.5 X 0.9 X 8.2 inches | 0.65 pounds
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About the Author
Emily Raboteau is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Professor's Daughter. Her fiction and essays have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best African American Fiction, The Guardian, Oxford American, Tin House and elsewhere. Recipient of numerous awards including a Pushcart Prize and a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Raboteau also teaches creative writing at The City College of New York in Harlem.
Winner of a 2014 American Book Award "Emily Raboteau has written a poignant, passionate, human-scale memoir about the biggest things: identity, faith, and the search for a place to call home in the world. Searching for Zion is as reaching as it is intimate, as original as its old soul. I didn't want to put this beautiful book down."--Cheryl Strayed "Lucid and ranging . . . A brilliant illustration of the ways in which race is an artificial construct that, like beauty, is often a matter of perspective."--Thomas Chatterton Williams, The Wall Street Journal "Brilliant . . . Raboteau's curiosity and keen intellect lead her to find more than she is seeking. . . . [Her] voice is as complex as her journey. Her descriptions are cogent and striking. Her irreverence and gumption provide comic relief."--Imani Perry, San Francisco Chronicle "This is a beautifully written and thought-provoking book. My head gets blown off every page. Though it describes Raboteau's very unique journey for her spiritual Zion, it's somehow wholly universal, too. Everywhere she goes, she hopes to find some straight and golden thread that would draw a line in the direction home, but instead she finds a tangle of humanity that refuses to adhere to any tidy narrative. An African-American named Robert E. Lee who lives in Ghana. Ethiopian Jews who find Jerusalem but not acceptance. And yet everyone she meets she renders with great deftness and empathy--a novelistic level of detail and understanding. I doubt there will be a more important work of nonfiction this year."--Dave Eggers "Informative, heartfelt . . . The rigor of Raboteau's journalistic work and her candid self-assessment . . . is thoughtful, well-researched, and deeply fascinating."--Kim McLarin, The Washington Post "An instructive read . . . 'You don't stomp on any permanent ground if you're between black and white, ' Rita Marley, Bob Marley's widow, tells [Raboteau] in Ghana. 'You don't have no grounds as a half-caste.' But there is a definite arc to Raboteau's book, and in her way, she proves Rita Marley wrong. She finds the ground she wants to make her own, and she sinks her roots there."--Laura Collins-Hughes, The Boston Globe "[Raboteau's] detailed depictions flash with insight and beauty. A section on slave tourism in Ghana is frankly fascinating, as are the sections on visiting Birmingham, Ala., and Katrina-ravaged New Orleans."--Lizzie Skurnick, Los Angeles Times "Extraordinary . . . Beautifully written."--Rebecca Carroll, Good.com "Vivid . . . Ambitious . . . Frank and expansive."--Lynell George, Chicago Tribune "An exceptionally beautiful and well researched book about a search for the kind of home for which there is no straight route, the kind of home in which the journey itself is as revelatory as the destination. Go on this timely and poignant journey with Emily Raboteau and you will never think of home in the same way again."--Edwidge Danticat "I burned through this eye-opening book, utterly engaged with Raboteau's search--which is, after all, everyone's search. Raboteau presents a self full of contradictions, smoldering energy, and the willingness to lay it all bare. Searching for Zion is a glorious meditation on what it is to be alive."--Nick Flynn "Luminous . . . An investigative odyssey . . . With masterful prose and insights bursting from every page."--Judith Basya, Heeb "No quest for home is ever limited to a simple place, and [Raboteau] evokes that reality beautifully. . . . A fresh perspective [on the] elusive concept of home."--Kirkus Reviews "Profound and accessible . . . Her earnest, interior study is well worth the journey."--Publishers Weekly "Part political statement, part memoir, this intense personal account roots the mythic perilous journey in [Raboteau's] search for home. . . . Candid, contemporary . . . Never self-important, this is sure to inspire [a] debate about the search for meaning, whether it concerns 'the din of patriotism' or the lack of closure."--Hazel Rochman, Booklist "Intelligent and illuminating."--Sharon Chisvin, Winnipeg Free Press