The Girl from Foreign: A Memoir

( 8 )

Overview

A search for shipwrecked ancestors, forgotten histories, and a sense of home

Fascinating and intimate , The Girl from Foreign is one woman's search for ancient family secrets that leads to an adventure in far-off lands. Sadia Shepard, the daughter of a white Protestant from Colorado and a Muslim from Pakistan, was shocked to discover that her grandmother was a descendant of the Bene Israel, a tiny Jewish community shipwrecked in India two thousand years ago. After traveling to ...

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The Girl from Foreign: A Memoir

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Overview

A search for shipwrecked ancestors, forgotten histories, and a sense of home

Fascinating and intimate , The Girl from Foreign is one woman's search for ancient family secrets that leads to an adventure in far-off lands. Sadia Shepard, the daughter of a white Protestant from Colorado and a Muslim from Pakistan, was shocked to discover that her grandmother was a descendant of the Bene Israel, a tiny Jewish community shipwrecked in India two thousand years ago. After traveling to India to put the pieces of her family's past together, her quest for identity unlocks a myriad of profound religious and cultural revelations that Shepard gracefully weaves into this touching, eye-opening memoir.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
" Elegantly crafted . . . [Shepard's] writing is vivid and her meditations on heritage and grief are moving."
-The New Yorker

" A meditation on how our individual memories inevitably slip away . . . A rich tapestry of theology, art, emotions and forgotten lore."
-The Washington Post

" Exquisite . . . Part love story, part history, part search-not only for what was lost, but for how to understand what is found . . . An act of love and courage."
-The Christian Science Monitor

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143115779
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/30/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 408,660
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Sadia Shepard is a documentary filmmaker and writer who lives in New York City. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 1997, from the Graduate Program in Documentary Film and Video at Stanford University in 2000, and began her work with the Bene Israel community of India while on a Fulbright Scholarship. This is her first book.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 10, 2012

    An interesting, if somewhat dry, memoir of Sadia Shephard's year

    An interesting, if somewhat dry, memoir of Sadia Shephard's year in India and Pakistan tracking down the Bene Israel community to which her grandmother belonged.

    I found the details of the Bene Israel community informative and intriguing -- this is a community of which I wasn't aware. Ms. Shepard narrative voice, however, is oddly detached and I found much of the pacing far too slow.

    I never had a sense of precisely what it was Shepard hoped to discover -- facts of her family's past? Certainly. But what is that great 'something more' that lifts a book like this from a tepid graduate thesis to a universal symbol? I never found it, and although the back of the book declares her journey to be
    'life-changing' I was not aware of any great transformation in the narrator. If the central narrative arc of a memoir is how the events contained therein contributed to the memoirist becoming who she ultimately became, then this work is thin gruel, no matter how exotic and colorful (to Westerners) the locale may be.

    The most interesting passages, for me came towards the end of the book -- a section wherein she discovered her grandmother's recipes is particularly poignant, and perhaps that's due to the specificity of the moment. It's a lovely metaphor. I would have liked to see it, or something similar, used to greater effect throughout the work.

    Still, as I said in the beginning -- although the book drags in sections, the premise is interesting, as are the facts of the Bene Israel community.

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  • Posted March 5, 2012

    A very interesting memoir.

    This is an intriguing memoir. Sadia was raised by a Moslem mother a Protestant father and a Muslim grandmother. But as she grew, she found out that her Grandmother was born Jewish in India and later moved to Pakistan. After graduate school, Sadia began a journey to learn her Grandmother's heritage. Clearly written and beutifully structured, this story leaves the reader begging for more. A wonderful read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2009

    Inspirational

    It was an absorbing story of a search for identity.

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  • Posted May 23, 2009

    A wonderful journey of discovery of self, family and culture by an articulate young woman

    A mesmerizing read as Shepherd recounts her adventure in India using a Fulbright scholarship to explore that country's very small Jewish community, and her own recently discovered connection to it. The organization of the book is a little awkward, but the journey is so compelling one is willing to overlook it.

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    Posted November 30, 2010

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    Posted December 10, 2009

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    Posted August 22, 2010

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    Posted December 26, 2008

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