- All Strangers Are Kin
Winner of the 2017 SATW Lowell Thomas Award for Best Travel Book
They say that Arabic takes seven years to learn and a lifetime to master. O’Neill had put in her time. Steeped in grammar tomes and outdated textbooks, she faced an increasing certainty that she was not only failing to master Arabic, but also driving herself crazy. She took a decade-long hiatus, but couldn’t shake her fascination with the language or the cultures it had opened up to her. So she decided to jump back in—this time with a new approach.
Join O’Neill for a grand tour through the Middle East. You will laugh with her in Egypt, delight in the stories she passes on from the United Arab Emirates, and find yourself transformed by her experiences in Lebanon and Morocco. She’s packed her dictionaries, her unsinkable sense of humor, and her talent for making fast friends of strangers. From quiet, bougainvillea-lined streets to the lively buzz of crowded medinas, from families’ homes to local hotspots, she brings a part of the world that is thousands of miles away right to your door.
A natural storyteller with an eye for the deeply absurd and the deeply human, Zora O’Neill explores the indelible links between culture and communication. A powerful testament to the dynamism of language, All Strangers Are Kin reminds us that learning another tongue leaves you rich with so much more than words.
Inside the Word Factory
See What We Did
Where’s Your Ear?
Days of Rage
Illuminating the House
Practical, Fashion, Extreme
When Your Ear Hears
Eau de Facebook
What He Did Not Know
The Best People
The New Beirut
What Is the Rule?
We Don’t Talk about Politics Here
Almost a Dead Language
Easy—but Not Good
The Weird Uncle
Pierre and His Friends
We Have Not Taught the Prophet the Price
Land of Thorns
Daddy, Mommy, Gramps
The Place Where the Sun Sets
You Pour the Tea
God Is Beautiful
Let’s Chat in Arabic
Up in the Old Hotel
What Is the Name of This?
Crossing the Bridge
Zora O'Neill is a freelance travel and food writer. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, and Condé Nast Traveler, and she has written or contributed to more than a dozen titles for Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, and Moon. She lives in Queens, New York.
“Zora O'Neill is the perfect travel companion: smart, curious, witty and knowledgeable. In a time when the news out of the Middle East is too often grim, she finds warmth and humor. By refusing to tread along the same paths that so many news reporters are confined to, she reveals to us rich new possibilities for understanding, all in a deceptively breezy tone.”—Carla Power, author of If the Oceans Were Ink
“O'Neill masterfully weaves together vignettes, linguistic musings, and a colorful cast of thousands into an always-thoughtful, often hysterically funny paean to a part of the world about which most Americans remain woefully ignorant.”—Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found
“Wry, witty, and charmingly erudite, this lovely book goes through the looking glass of the Arabic language and emerges with a radiant image of the Arab world.”—Diana Abu-Jaber, author of The Language of Baklava: a Memoir
“You will travel through countries and across centuries, meeting professors and poets, revolutionaries, nomads, and nerds. O'Neill's generous storytelling makes the intricacies of Arabic grammar seem fascinating and inexplicably glamorous. And the most unforgettable character you encounter may be the Arabic language itself, which will feel like an old friend by the time you finish this warm and hilarious book.”—Annia Ciezadlo, author of Day of Honey
“At a time when politics dominates our view of the Middle East, Zora O'Neill has found a different port of entry: the language. An enthusiastic and resourceful student of Arabic, O'Neill captures both the richness of the language and the ways in which it allows an outsider to connect with common people all the way from Morocco to the Persian Gulf.”—Peter Hessler, author of Oracle Bones and River Town
“Zora O'Neill is a wonderful writer, a hakawati who can spin a tale with the best of them.”—Rabih Alameddine, author of An Unnecessary Woman
“Witty” —Us Weekly
“Fascinating” —Publishers Weekly
“A genial and revealing pleasure.” —Seattle Times
“Memorable and funny. . . an engrossing read about the very different places she visits, learning from the various people she encounters and speaking as much Arabic as her brain will allow her.” —BookRiot, 7 Memoirs on Learning a New Language
“Like her journey, her memoir is colorful, comical, and compelling.” —Bustle, 16 Must-Read Nonfiction Books
“Her writing brings to life dynamic settings and captivating people. —Romper, Summer Books to Enjoy On Your Warm Weather Adventures
“Glimpses of daily life, particularly of Arab women, are intriguing and sometimes unexpected, including the rich assortment of Lebanese cursing while driving.” —Library Journal
“Engaging. . . A valiant chronicle of the author's 'Year of Speaking Arabic Badly.'”—Kirkus Reviews
“Zora O'Neill is a keen observer of cultures fresh to her and a fine writing stylist.”—Society of American Travel Writers Lowell Thomas Award citation for Best Travel Book