Book Talk: Author Jordan Salama ‘19 Discusses his new book Stranger in the Desert

stranger-in-the-desertJoin Jordan Salama ‘19 as he presents his new book, Stranger in the Desert, and shares his tips for making the most of  your family history project using the tools of a journalist. 

About Stranger in the Desert: Inspired by family lore, a young writer embarks on an epic quest through the Argentine Andes in search of a heritage spanning hemispheres and centuries, from the Jewish Levant to turn-of-the-century trade routes in South America. 

One Thanksgiving afternoon at his grandparents’ house, Jordan Salama discovers a large binder stuffed with yellowing papers and old photographs—a five-hundred-year wandering history of his Arab-Jewish family, from Moorish Spain to Ottoman Syria to Argentina and beyond.

One story in particular captures his attention: that of his great-grandfather, a Syrian-born, Arabic-speaking Jewish immigrant to Argentina who in the 1920s worked as a traveling salesman in the Andes—and may have left behind forgotten descendants along the way. Encouraged by his grandfather, Jordan goes in search of these “Lost Salamas,” traveling more than a thousand miles up the spine of South America’s greatest mountain range.

Combining travelog, history, memoir, and reportage, Stranger in the Desert transports readers from the lonely plains of Patagonia to the breathtaking altiplano of the high Andes; from the old Jewish quarter of Damascus to today’s vibrant neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. It is also a fervent journey of self-discovery as Salama grapples with his own Jewish, Arab, and Latin American identities, interrogating the stories families tell themselves, and to what end.

About Jordan Salama: Jordan Salama is the author of Stranger in the Desert, an intergenerational family story that chronicles a journey across Argentina in search of traces of his Syrian Jewish great-grandfather, a traveling salesman in the Andes. His stories about culture and migration in the Americas have appeared in National Geographic, New York Magazine, The New York Times, and other national and international publications. He is also the author of Every Day the River Changes, a river journey through Colombia, which was named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2021 and the “Pre-Read” at Princeton University, where he graduated in 2019. He has been based, in recent years, between New York and Buenos Aires.


When: Wednesday, March 27, from 6-8 PM

Where: The Chasleton Ballroom, 1701 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 / Light refreshments

Co-sponsors: Princeton Women's Network Book Club and Association of Latino Princeton Alumni (ALPA) DMV Book Club


In-Person Attendance: Registration closed.

Virtual Attendance: Free for all attendees - RSVP here

Questions? Contact



6:00PM - 8:00PM Wed 27 Mar 2024, Eastern timezone


The Chasleton Ballroom
1701 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20009

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