28 November 2011

Extra Virginity and Birds of Paradise on Woman-Stirred radio




This week, Tom Mueller, author of Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil,  and Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Birds of Paradise, visit Merry Gangemi on Woman-Stirred Radio.





First up, at 4:15 p. m. (eastern), is journalist Tom Mueller, whose new book, Extra Virginity: The  Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil (WW Norton, 2011) has shaken consumers and producers alike. An essential foodstuff for thousands of years, extra-virgin olive oil is also utilized in medicines, religious rituals, and health and beauty products. Extra-virgin olive oil is the product garnered from the first pressing of the fruit, and is highly valued for its uniquely beneficial properties as a monounsaturated oil. Mueller's carefully researched and well-written book, Extra Virginity, not only explores the implications and consequences of an impure product, but also exposes the enormous financial windfalls available to producers who adulterate the oil, as well as fraudulent shipping practices and export/import policies, the brokers and purchasers who turn a blind eye, and the government inspectors and wholesale/retail quality control experts who are unwilling or unable to stop the fraud. The book is interesting, engaging, informative, and for some, will change the way they think about the food industry and the laxity of FDA oversight in an age of slash and burn economics.

Free-lance journalist Tom Mueller writes for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and other magazines. He lives in a medieval farmhouse the Ligurian countryside, near Genoa, Italy.

Then at 5:00 p.m., I interview Diana Abu-Jabar, whose new novel, Birds of Paradise, was released by WW Norton this year. The novel is structured around Felice, the teenage daughter of Avis and Brian, a master baker and a real estate lawyer, and their son Stanley, who owns and manages a thriving natural foods market. Set against the backdrop of Miami, Florida, the narrative unfolds in a style and manner not unlike the very essence of the city itself, with its diverse, multi-cultural neighborhoods, teen homelessness, the romanticism and allure of sugar, and social blindness to the long-term consequences of sprawling urban development. Fraught with the complexity of twenty-first century American life, Birds of Paradise relentlessly excavates the secrets and ambiguity of childhood, social and familial moral responsibility, and compartmentalization that grows like lichens between the realities and shattered perspectives of parenthood and financial success. One of the more fascinating undercurrents of the book is the inability of spouses, parents, children, siblings, friends, and business associates to communicate with each other in an age in which communication technology is exploding and the facades of the American Dream are crumbling.

Diana Abu-Jaber is the author of Origin, Cresent, Arabian Jazz, and the Language of Baklava. her work has been published in many magazine, including Ms, Salon, Vogue, Gourmet, the Washington Post, and the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.  A recipient of the PEN Center USA Award, Abu-Jaber divides her times between Coral Gables, Florida, and Portland, Oregon.

So please tune in this Thursday, December 1, from 4 to 6 p.m. to Woman-Stirred Radio. Interviews start at 4:15. Want to join the conversation? Call the air studio 802.454.7762.