A lyrical, haunting, multi-generational memoir of one family's tempestuous century in Iraq from 1900 to the present. The Chalabis are one of the oldest and most prominent families in Iraq. For centuries they have occupied positions of honour and responsibility, loyally serving first the Ottoman Empire and, later, the national government. In 'Late for Tea at the Deer Palace', Tamara Chalabi explores the dramatic story of her extraordinary family's history in this beautiful, passionate and troubled land. From the grand opulence of her great-grandfather's house and the birth of the modern state, through to the elegant Iraq of her grandmother Bibi, who lived the life of a queen in Baghdad, and finally to her own story, that of the ex-pat daughter of a family in exile, Chalabi takes us on an unforgettable and eye-opening journey. This is the story of a lost homeland, whose turbulent transformations over the twentieth century left gaping wounds at the hearts not only of the family it exiled, but also of the elegant, sophisticated world it once represented. When Tamara visited her once-beautiful ancestral land for the first time in 2003, she found a country she didn't recognize - and a nation on the brink of a terrifying and uncertain new beginning. Lyrical and unique, this exquisite multi-generational memoir brings together east and west, the poetic and the political as it brings to life a land of beauty and grace that has been all but lost behind recent headlines.
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The dramatic tale of one family's tempestuous century in Iraq from 1900 to the present. An exquisite multi-generational memoir, 'Late for Tea at the Deer Palace' tells the story of an extraordinary family's century in Iraq. It brings to life the fascinating history of a nation from its days as a province of the Ottoman Empire, through to European domination, independence, revolution, dictatorship and the wars that have seized the attention of the modern world. From the grand opulence of her great-grandfather's house in Ottoman Baghdad and her larger than life grandmother, Tamara Chalabi guides us through several generations until the moment when the country's order, to which her family belonged, comes crashing down. In 2003, she visits her ancestral home for the first time and finds a country sliding out of the tyrannical grip of Saddam's rule. She must find a way to reconcile the old and the new, a sense of alienation with a longing for a homeland. As she explores the nature of identity, memory and what it means to have inherited exile, the magic of this country and its people are brought to life. Bringing together east and west, the poetic and the political, Chalabi recreates an old world that has been lost behind recent headlines of war, occupation and suicide bombings.From the Back Cover:
For Tamara Chalabi, Iraq is more than a country of war and controversy; it is a place of poignant memory. For much of the twentieth century, the Chalabis were among the most influential families in Iraq. In the 1920s they were at the forefront of their country's awakening to modernity, and they played an integral part in the establishment of its monarchy. As courtiers, politicians, businessmen, rebels, merchants, and scholars, the Chalabis enjoyed vast privilege until the end of the 1950s, when they were forced to flee to the land of exile, myth, and imagination, where their beloved homeland took on the quality of a phantom country. In between came rebellions, foreign interventions, and the transformative development of oil wealth.
But in 2003, after a lifetime of exile, Tamara arrived in Baghdad just ten days after the city's fall, in the company of her father, Ahmad Chalabi, a leading opposition figure against the Saddam regime. Late for Tea at the Deer Palace chronicles a daughter's return to a homeland she'd known only through stories and her own imagination. As she investigates four generations of her family's history, Tamara offers a rich portrait of Middle Eastern family life and a provocative look at a lost Iraq. The story is populated by an array of unforgettable characters, among them Tamara's great-grandfather Abdul Hussein Chalabi, who as a member of the Ottoman parliament witnessed the end of the empire in Baghdad and the birth of the modern Iraqi state at the hands of the British; her grandfather Abdul Hadi Chalabi, who became one of the wealthiest men in Iraq and had strong ties with the British during World War II; and her grandmother Bibi, a grande dame who presided over Iraq's social and political life during Baghdad's 1920s and '30s heyday as the Paris of the Middle East.
At once intimate and magisterial, Late for Tea at the Deer Palace vividly captures the rich, overlooked history of a country that has been uprooted by war and a family that has persevered by never forgetting its dreams or its past.
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