C. Delman

Burnt Bread
and Chutney

Burnt Bread and Chutney
is the story of Carmit Delman’s experiences growing
up as an outsider in a Jewish-Indian home in the American midwest and Israel.
The child of an Indian Jewish mother, part of Bene Israel, and a father born
in the U.S. of Eastern Europe parents, Delman seeks out her past to find where
she fits in. Delman’s writing demonstrates her respect for the past and her
intrigue for the life her maternal family left behind when they emigrated
from India. Delman weaves a story about life in India through her memories
of her Nana-bai and simultaneously tells her own story of growing up 
— her clothes, her foods, and even the lingering smell of the spices that
are ever present in and Indian home — all made her an outsider.

A striking aspect of the book is the
way in which Delman writes about her parents’ determination to create a strong,
well-rooted family in Israel as well as in Ohio. Delman manages to describe
the pace and goals of her family life, without being overly judgmental it.
Her tone leads the reader to believe that while she may not have made the
same decisions had she been the parent, she understands the motivation behind
the decisions and respects her parents for giving their children the best
that they could.

@The Source Israel had a chance to interview Carmit Delman, below is a copy
of the interview:

Q: You write that you were conscious of being “different” from an early
age. It appears to have been a motivating factor in your self-image. Were
your siblings as focused on the aspects of your family life and heritage that
differentiated you from the communities in which you were raised? Were your
parents aware of how you felt? Did this impact your family life?

A: “That consciousness–like this book–is really a reflection of my individualpersonality
and quirks. If my parents or siblings sat down and wrote their own stories,
those would be very different books, demonstrating entirely different perspectives
on how we fit into the world. I cannot speak for them. But I do think that
they were often aware that I myself sometimes struggled while growing up,
and they were, naturally, kind and patient with me.”

Q: Was writing the book cathartic? How so?

A: “The book was cathartic in that, as a writer, I have many stories to
tell. But in order to tap into them, I first needed to get through this one,
because it had been sitting at the forefront of my imagination all along.
It was also a wonderful opportunity at this young age to look at the lines
of my life and to have to think about them.”

Q: What is your overall message to readers?

A: “I think the overall message here is not particularly Indian or Jewish.
Some may try to read it as an exotic story, but that is not the intention
at all. Rather it is a universal story of growing up and loving your family
and making peace.”

Q: Did writing the book help you to understand your parents’ decisions?

A: “Writing this book did allow me to understand my parents’ decisions
— so that I see the frictions described in my youth with much more sense
and comprehension. This was also probably a product of simply growing up.”

Q: What are your interests? What do you do in your spare time?

A: “In my spare time, I love to travel. In fact, I just came back from
a trip through some of the southern states here in America, promoting my
book. I like to dance and run, and to bake and hike. I love spending time
with my family.”

Q: Do you visit Israel?

A: “As I have been quite busy with work, I haven’t visited Israel in a
handful of years, but before that I would go back every year or two. And
I’m hoping to come again very soon.”

Q: Are you working on another book?

A: “I am currently working on a novel. It is set about

two thousand years ago in ancient Israel, and requires a lot of intricate
but very interesting research. I’m enjoying the process a great deal.”

Interview and review by Michele Kaplan-Green


Burnt Bread and Chutney

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