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THE BOOK: One Hundred Hungers
PUBLISHED IN: 2016
THE AUTHOR: Lauren Camp
THE PUBLISHER: Tupelo Press, a nonprofit, independent, literary press devoted to works of poetry, literary fiction, and creative nonfiction
SUMMARY: Part memoir, part myth, One Hundred Hungers offers an account of cultural and familial exchange. Poet Lauren Camp grew up with the heritage and cuisine brought to the U.S. by her father’s Jewish family when they fled their homeland—Baghdad, Iraq—in 1950. At Sabbath dinners at her grandparents’ house, she was surrounded with the aromas of Middle Eastern cooking, the chants of ancient rituals, and the harsh sounds of Arabic, which she didn’t understand. Food and tradition were the family’s connection to the home they left behind, and also the bond between the girl and her father.
As an adult, Camp began to explore why the family emigrated. By then, the U.S. was at war with Iraq. Her father had essentially erased his memory of the place he was born. With the few morsels he shared, and her own extensive research and informed imagination, Camp has assembled a book of poems that casts a candlelit shadow of life in the Middle East, and its growing tensions, alongside a portrait of an American youth.
One Hundred Hungers flows in and out of vignettes that depict the privilege and underlying danger for a first-born boy in a city of river-fed commerce. Other poems show life in suburban America for his extended refugee family and his little girl. In still other poems, Camp imagines impossible conversations with her father about the past and about contemporary issues in his country of origin.
Camp places the politics and menace in the background, focusing instead on the relationships and mealtime rituals brought—along with one suitcase—to the new land. In rich, aromatic language, One Hundred Hungers celebrates a family’s perseverance.
THE BACK STORY: I never thought much about the specifics of my father’s childhood—a Jew in Iraq. A Jew OF Iraq. I never thought it might have been difficult. He told us children almost nothing. We didn’t know what questions to ask, or weren’t interested, or knew not to ask anything at all. Only as an adult did I learn that Jewish-Muslim relations had become contentious in the 30s, and in June 1941, riots broke out against the Jews of Baghdad. My father was about to turn 6 when this happened. He has never spoken about it.
I began to research, and learned that relations between groups had been pleasant in Iraq for centuries. Then, in 1915, Great Britain imposed territorial boundaries, and this created tensions between ethnic and religious groups. Corrupt leadership, wars and Nazi propaganda further soured conditions between Muslims and Jews. My father, in conversation one day, told me his address. I found a map. I was able to point to the side of the Tigris where his family had lived. This made it all more real. I began writing quickly after that.
WHY THIS TITLE?: The title is drawn from within a poem, but the book connects many hungers: an appetite for food, and the hungers for knowledge, for history, for connection, for self, among others.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The book is about ancestry. It is also about faith and family. Too, it is about stages of life. In these ways, it touches many people with themes they have experienced.
Too many of us don’t know our heritage, or don’t know much. Many of us come from families that never spoke of life in their homelands. One Hundred Hungers allows each person to consider his or her family history, what is left behind and what is gained when such a big move is made.
“…as this migration story unfolds, the daughter’s burgeoning sexuality and the predatory dangers that come with it emerge in some of this book’s best poems.” — Publisher’s Weekly (Full review: http://publishersweekly.com/978-1-936797-72-1)
“Lauren Camp’s new book … is just the kind of voice that should be more widely heard these days.” — Jean Nordhaus, Poet Lore
“This is a gorgeous, thrilling, at times grievous book” — Jim Schley, Managing Editor, Tupelo Press
“It’s a haunting and powerful book” — David Wojahn, judge for the Dorset Prize
AUTHOR PROFILE: Lauren Camp is a poet, educator, and radio host. She is the author of three books: This Business of Wisdom (West End Press, 2010), The Dailiness (Edwin E. Smith Publishing, 2013) and One Hundred Hungers (Tupelo Press, 2016). Her poems appear in Slice, New England Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry International and many other journals. Lauren is a current Black Earth Institute Fellow. Other literary honors include the Dorset Prize, the National Federation of Press Women Poetry Book Prize, the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize and the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award. She hosts “Audio Saucepan”—a global music program interwoven with contemporary poetry—on Santa Fe Public Radio, and teaches creative writing in northern New Mexico. http://www.laurencamp.com
AUTHOR COMMENTS: Here’s where you can perhaps tie your book to some larger issue, or what you hoped to accomplish.
When I was a child, no one seemed to know where Iraq was. I could revel in the difference my heritage offered. But my peers began to be aware with the first Gulf War, when Iraq was repeatedly in the news for atrocities and tragedies. My two countries have spent many years at war. I wanted to write a story that elucidates the spaces before that war, and the emotional dangers of a cross-global move, what it means to be a refugee, what it means to start again.
Two sample poems and an essay by Lauren in World Literature Today: http://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/surrendering-unsaid#.U2boLK1dUww
A poem in Matter Monthly: https://mattermonthly.com/2014/07/02/i-am-practicing-now-turning/
LOCAL OUTLETS: WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Lauren’s website (www.laurencamp.com) or Tupelo Press (www.tupelopress.org).
(Of course, it’s also available on Amazon, but please buy from the author or your local store, when possible!)
CONTACT THE AUTHOR: firstname.lastname@example.org