Mustard and Vinegar

A couple of weeks ago at a writers’ meeting I had the privilege of meeting Rosine Nimeh-Mailloux, a gracious lady who grew up in Bethlehem in a Syrian Orthodox family. She’s written and published two books, one a collection of short stories based on her family’s experiences in Turkey, Lebanon, and Palestine (Mustard and Vinegar, self-published through Trafford Press), and one a novel loosely based on the story of her aunt (The Madwoman of Bethlehem, published by Second Story Press).

Rosine traded a copy of Mustard and Vinegar for one of my Pieces of Grace, and I just finished reading it yesterday. Each story brings the people and events of one family’s journey through life to life, in the way that only a naturally gifted writer can do. Most of the stories are sad, reflecting time and place, but they’re also inspiring, especially toward the end as Munira, one of the central characters, sees her children fulfill her dreams. There’s also a lot of fascinating cultural insight here, dealing with things like the oppression of women, the importance of family, and the nature of faith. Many of the stories are set in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, showing the Palestinian side of the Middle Eastern conflict from the perspective of one family.

I really enjoyed Mustard and Vinegar, probably even more because I met the author. Her desire was to capture the realities of life for her family so that her children and grandchildren wouldn’t forget. That’s a common reason for writing — I’ve considered writing my own family history, about my Mennonite ancestors back in Ukraine — but not everyone can do it so well that the stories will be meaningful and interesting to those outside the family as well.

How about you? Have you ever written stories based on your family’s life or history? Would you?







One response to “Mustard and Vinegar”

  1. Elisabeth Avatar

    I usually write down family stories and memories (such as my little brother dropping his tiny toy train in Mom’s coffee cup!), but I haven’t put any of them in a story. I don’t know if I will; I like to keep my memories close to my heart, and I prefer to write about the worlds in my imagination!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *