Diversity Book Club: The Lemon Tree
The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East (2006) written by award-winning journalist Sandy Tolan ( https://sandytolan.com/about )
The Lemon Tree chronicles a 35-year friendship between Bashir Khairi and Dalia Eshkenazi Landau, who met in 1967. The book is based on extensive research about the lives of two families in the midst of the century-long struggles in Palestine and modern Israel. Their lives intersect in the shadow of a small homestead with a lemon tree in the back yard. “This is the house with two histories. The house with the lemon tree,” Tolan writes.
The book grew out of a 1998 NPR documentary in which Tolan reported on this friendship. The book was the subject of an extensive interview of the author on NPR’s Fresh Air in May 2006 ( https://www.npr.org/2006/05/15/5405369/the-lemon-tree-tells-mideast-history-via-friendship ). The Lemon Tree received a 2007 Christopher Award (https://www.christophers.org/awards) and was a 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist.
The message of The Lemon Tree is as salient today as it was when it first published. As war rages in the Middle East, Christians are seeking to understand the roots of the violence and to find safe space to ask difficult questions. The Diversity Book Club seeks to provide that space at St. James.