Excerpt from Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships

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When people sat down at Sarah Seldon’s blackjack game, they always wanted to talk about The Book. “Should I double down? Should I hit? Dealer, I know you’re a gambler; you could let me win if you wanted to. What does the book say?” She had never read this book, this mythical Bible for gamblers. The truth is there are 2256 books, each teaching its own foolproof winning system. But Sarah had been in the casino business long enough to think with a gambler’s mind. Gamblers knew they could follow all the rules of basic strategy, utilize money management and still lose if they weren’t dealt the right cards. The allure and curse of gambling was that there were no sure things. In the end it all came down to luck; gamblers prayed that Lady Luck would show up and that she would stick around for awhile.

#1 Cruise Ship Novel at Amazon

#1 Cruise Ship Novel at Amazon

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Revital Shiri- Horowitiz is an Israeli-Iraqi author who has lived many years in the United States. Some years ago she decided to write a novel about her family's exodus from Iraq to Israel. She would  like to share a little bit you about her novel, Daughters of Iraq, and what inspired it, but first she will tell you a  little history about the Jews in Iraq, because not many people know it. I have read this novel and it is beautifully written, and I learned so much about the Middle Eastern immigration to Israel. But now I will let Revital tell you her story.
The history of the Jews in Iraq has been documented from the time of the Babylonian captivity c. 586 BCE. Iraqi Jews constitute one of the world's oldest and most historically significant Jewish communities.
The Jewish community of Babylon included Ezra the scribe, whose return to Judea was associated with significant changes in Jewish ritual observance. The Talmud was compiled in Babylonia, identified with modern Iraq.
From the Babylonian period to the rise of the Islamic caliphate, the Jewish community of Babylon thrived as the center of Jewish learning. The Mongol invasion and Islamic discrimination in the Middle Ages led to its decline. Under the Ottoman Empire, the Jews of Iraq fared better. The community established modern schools in the second half of the 19th century.
In the 20th century, Iraqi Jews played an important role in the early days of the Iraq's independence, but the Iraqi Jewish community, numbered at around 120,000 in 1948, almost entirely left the country due to persecution following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Most of them fled to the newly founded state of Israel, and today in the early 21st century, fewer than 100 Jews remain.
Even though I haven't visited Iraq, I did research for my novel. Since there isn't much out there, I mainly used my family as my main resource.
All the Jews who left, like my parents and grand parents, were never able to go back to Iraq. I must mention that the Iraqi government took over all their belongings and properties left behind. Jews were not allowed to leave Iraq even with cash, and only with a very limited amount that left them basically with nothing when they arrived in Israel. My family left Iraq the way I related it in the novel. That part is all true. It is also true that they came from very nice houses, where they'd had servants, but in Israel they had to live in tents for a few years. Many people never got over this very traumatic move. I can tell you that the relationship between my grandparents was never the same after they left Iraq.
My grandfather who worked for the Iraqi government was a very well known person in his community. Coming to Israel with no money or language at the age of almost 50 years old had a great impact on the way his own family members looked at him, not to mention the fact that he could not find a job for a long time. His young kids had to stop going to school and find jobs. My mom worked since she was 17 and was never able to complete her education. My grandmother, who had adored my grandfather before leaving Iraq, just couldn't stand him anymore. He lost his family status, his community status, but actually never regretted moving to Israel.
In his eyes he was so fortunate to be the chosen one, the one from many generations, able to fulfill the dream of living in the holy land, his forefather's land. After so many generations forced to live abroad, he was the one who could live with his family in the Promised Land.
The Wailing Wall - One of the most sacred spots in Jerusalem

All the women play an important role in Daughters of Iraq, including the mother. She is the one tells the family story. She's a composite and a great tool for me to bring the women's story of the Jews in Iraq, and to share about the Jewish Iraqi traditions. I had to kill her in order to justify her. After all she is telling her story to her kids, so why do that unless she was dying. In doing the research for my novel, I would have loved to travel to Iraq, but the situation there is unfriendly to Americans and to Jews specifically. My guess is travel there is not going to happen anytime soon, though I would have loved to go there with my mom, uncles and aunts. It would be a visit to the places of their youth, and a way to uncover even more family stories.
Essentially, I wanted people to learn about Jewish Iraqi history, and especially about the women, and what better way than through a novel.

I laughed, cried, and found myself relating to this beautifully written novel of a family in a world far away. It's a lovely story of humanity, a mother's adoration for her children, and a family's dream for the future. One a scale of 5 stars, I give it an 8. I highly recommend it to both men and women alike. -- Jackie Madden Haugh, Author of My Life in a Tutu

About The Book
Daughters of Iraq is the story of emigration of a Jewish family from Iraq to newly-established Israel as experienced by two sisters: Violet, whom we learn about through a diary she kept after being diagnosed with a critical illness, and through Farida, whose personality unfolds through her relationship with her new surroundings and herself. And through Noa, Violet’s daughter and a student in her twenties in the late twentieth century, who is searching for meaning. Noa embarks on a spiritual quest to the past, so that she can learn how to build her life in the present and for the future. While each of the three women is struggling with her own issues, they are all looking for the same thing: happiness. They have a strong sense of family and of their deep roots. They are all inextricably linked to each other. By the book’s end, the author has painted a powerful and moving canvas of the whole family.

This is a photo of one of my favorite spots to travel to. It is Mount Rainier in Washington State. My family lived there for several years and we loved hiking the great outdoors.

Links for Revital Shiri-Horowitz:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Cara for hoting me on your blog! It is such a wondeful idea to host Authors who write travel novels.

    Best, Revital