A La Carte

Karin Tanabe's 'The Diplomat's Daughter'

July 12, 2017

Think you’ve read every possible tale of love, shattered lives, and the atrocities of World War II? Think again.

 

In her fourth novel, The Diplomat’s Daughter, Karin Tanabe introduces you to three young people swept up in the looming global conflict: a Japanese diplomat’s daughter, an Austrian Jewish banker's son, and the son of a German-American steel baron.

 

With deftness and clarity, Tanabe probes some lesser known injustices of the time, and in so doing, reminds us how little has changed, with racism promoted daily in the name of national security.

 

Inspired by actor George Takai’s musical, Allegiance, based on his own family’s internment along with 120,000 other Japanese-Americans following Pearl Harbor, Tanabe examines the fight between family bonds, duty, and patriotism.

Karin Tanabe (Photo by: Julian Barton) Karin Tanabe

 

As the author notes, “My Japanese father was three years old when the firebombing of Tokyo and Yokohama occurred in May of 1945 . . . “My understanding of the war all started with my father being attacked by American bombs.” Regarding the internment camps, she adds, “I discovered that in fact more than 11,000 German-Americans were interned, many having been held alongside the Japanese in a family camp in Crystal City, Texas.”

 

Entwined with a timely history lesson is a forbidden love story that moves from Kristallnacht in Vienna to Crystal City in Texas, to Shanghai, Tokyo and the oceans between. With the eye of a war correspondent, the author illuminates the moral ambiguities of national alliances and the transcendent power of love.

 

As the daughter of refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and Austria, I was particularly moved by Tanabe’s authentic depiction of the rise of Adolf Hitler, the urgency to escape persecution, and the toll of innnumerable lives, along with a way of life, forever lost.

 

Paying tribute to those who helped her craft such a fine narrative, Tanabe thanked "those who are no longer with us, but whose shared memories over several decades made The Diplomat's Daughter come alive."


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The Daily Dish Presents #BigBandandBooks

June 25, 2017

Way too much talent (and 100% local) for a Sunday afternoon in June. But we're not complaining. Zena Polin invited The Georgetown Dish to a literary and musical feast at her RAMMY-nominated The Daily Dish.

Zena Polin (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Zena Polin

Three celebrated authors: Cathy Alter, Cathy Cruise and Andrew Gifford joined five year-old Leo Feldman in readings of their latest works following The Santa Fe Writers Project Book Festival.

Leo Feldman (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Leo Feldman

As Feldman told the audience about How to Make Your Mom Happy, "I wrote this book because "my mom hit her head."

Cathy Alter (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Cathy Alter

In honor of Independence Day, instead of a passage from Crush, Feldman's mom, Cathy Alter chose her latest essay: "Girlhood Liberation Came from a Catcall," a poignant tale from her adolescence where the author discovered, after idolizing her stylish mother, that it was finally her turn to see something in the mirror "that could take me places, that could, and would, get me into all sorts of trouble."

Cathy Cruise (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Cathy Cruise

Cathy Crusie read from A Hundred Weddings, her debut novel about being dragged to too many weddings by her wedding planner mother.

Andrew Gifford (Photo by: Judith eermann) Andrew Gifford

In We All Scream: The Fall of the Gifford's Ice Cream Empire about his childhood and the family ice cream business, Andrew Gifford read of learning of his grandmother's death several decades after the fact by an all too secretive mother who had left her six year-old son to watch "The War of the Worlds" as she attended the funeral.

Carmen Musalem Pinto (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Carmen Musalem Pinto

Then The Rockville Swing Band performed contemporary jazz big band arrangements and traditional swing with the amazing 16-year old singer Carmen Musalem Pinto. Remember that name. Incredible, incredible voice!

 

Add a little wine and the restaurant-turned dance hall was a most joyous place. 

The Rockville Swing Band (Photo by: Judith Beermann) The Rockville Swing Band

Andrew Gifford and Eugenie Oliver (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Andrew Gifford and Eugenie Oliver

Listening to Anderw Gifford (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Listening to Anderw Gifford

Carmen Musalem Pinto and Claudia Pinto (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Carmen Musalem Pinto and Claudia Pinto

Scallops and Rose (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Scallops and Rose

8301 Grubb Road, Silver Spring, MD (Photo by: Judith Beermann) 8301 Grubb Road, Silver Spring, MD


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Falafel For Good

June 18, 2017

Inside Falafel Inc. (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Inside Falafel Inc.

No falafel has ever come close to my first in Kiryat Tivon, too many decades ago. Until now.

 

Brainchild of Ahmad Ashkar, Palestinian-American businessman, author and founder/CEO of the Hult Prize FoundationFalafel Inc. is a lot more than Georgetown’s latest tasty street food diner.

 

In 2016, Esquire magazine selected Ashkar “Entrepreneur of the Year.” And for good reason.

 

As authentic as the recipes passed down by Ashkar’s mother, it’s also “the world’s first falafel quick-service food social enterprise.”

On the wall inside Falafel Inc. (Photo by: Judith Beermann) On the wall inside Falafel Inc.

In 800 square feet, previously occupied by Quick Pita at 1210 Potomac Street, "every meal you buy, helps feed a refugee in need." The menu is simple. Falafel in a bowl or falafel in pita. Tasty sauces, sides and drinks. That's it. 

 

Judging by the line outside 20 minutes before noon opening time on Saturday, Falafel Inc. is well on the way towards its goal “to build a world-wide community of 100 stores … to feed 1,000,000 refugees every year.”

 

Patio dining at Falafel Inc. (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Patio dining at Falafel Inc.


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