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Jordan Salama to Offer a Peek at ‘Stranger in the Desert’
Salama writes about a variety of subjects, including climate change, American Jewish life and the Argentina national soccer team, for such publications as National Geographic, the New York Times and Smithsonian Magazine.
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Sunday, September 24, 2023


A few years ago, Jordan Salama set out on an epic quest traveling a thousand miles up the spine of South America’s Andes in search of “Lost Salamas”—what he called forgotten descendants.

His quest was fueled by his discovery of a large binder stuffed with yellowing papers and old photographs at his grandparents’ home. It contained a 500-year-wandering history of his Arab-Jewish family from their origin in Moorish Spain to Ottoman Syria to Argentina.

He was particularly struck by the story of his great-grandfather, a Syrian-born, Arabic-speaking Jewish immigrant to Argentina who worked as a traveling salesman in the Andes during the 1920s, possibly leaving forgotten descendants behind as he went.

Salama wrote a book about his journey, which took him from the plains of Patagonia to the altiplano of the high Andew and from the old Jewish quarter of Damacus to the modern-day city of Buenos Aires.

The book, “Stranger in the Desert: A Family Story,” is scheduled to be released in February 2024. And he will discuss the book at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26 at Ketchum’s Community Library. To attend in person, reserve your seat at

The talk will also be livestreamed and available to watch later at

Salama told of his journey down Colombia’s Rio Magdalena chronicled in his first book “Every Day the River Changes” in an earlier virtual presentation at the library as part of the 2022 Winter Read. That book was named a top new travel book by the New York Times and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2021.

The New York-based writer is appearing in person this time as the Writer-in-Residence at the Ernest and Mary Hemingway House, which is administered by the library.

"So much of my writing has to do with people, history, and the natural world,” he said. “So, I can't imagine a better place to share my work than in Sun Valley, which seems to be a place filled with stories. To be able to spend time in such an iconic American setting is a real honor, and I couldn't be more excited to meet the community." 



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