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In Paperback, February 2014
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“In this profound and accessible meditation on race, novelist (The Professor’s Daughter) and scholar Raboteau depicts her travels from Israel and Jamaica to Africa and the Deep South in search of the elusive African-American notion of “home.””
Publishers Weekly

“No quest for home is ever limited to a simple place, and the author evokes that reality beautifully by focusing on the spiritual aspect of the search for many of African descent…An excellent choice for readers interested in religion, philosophy and the elusive concept of home.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Part political statement, part memoir, this intense personal account roots the mythic perilous journey in the writer’s search for home, in the U.S. and across the globe…sure to inspire intense debate about the search for meaning.”
— Booklist

“Lucid and ranging…a brilliant illustration of the ways in which race is an artificial construct that, like beauty, is often a matter of perspective.”
The Wall Street Journal

“[Raboteau’s] detailed depictions flash with insight and beauty.  A section on slave tourism in Ghana is frankly fascinating, as are the sections on visiting Birmingham, Ala., and Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.”
— Los Angeles Times

“Raboteau’s voice is as complex as her journey. Her descriptions are cogent and striking. Her irreverence and gumption provide comic relief and invite the reader to want to be friends with this scribe whose mouth sometimes gets her in trouble, and who ultimately seems to be as tough as she is vulnerable. It is undoubtedly an intellectual’s path, filled with detailed discussions of African American religious history, Rastafarian theology, Ethiopian history and ending with a brilliant analysis of the prosperity gospel of evangelical mega-churches.”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“Surprising turns garnish Emily Raboteau’s Searching For Zion. . . . a quest whose outlines are neither new nor unknown: forced or voluntary bi-directional movements across the Atlantic to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, and Israel. New however, are the warmth, wit, and arresting details which saturate this odyssey.”
The Philadelphia Review of Books

“In her frank and expansive new memoir, Emily Raboteau in essence fans out series of interpretive Rorschach blots, images gathered on an ambitious journey around the globe. She displays them end to end, like a storyboard: Each impressionistic, deeply personal vignette is a building block, detailing her far-flung search for “home” — a “promised land” that’s as brick-and-mortar tangible as it is spiritually confirming.”
Chicago Tribune

“An instructive read… ‘You don’t stomp on any permanent ground if you’re between black and white,’ Rita Marley, Bob Marley’s widow, tells [Raboteau] in Ghana. ‘You don’t have no grounds as a half-caste.’ But there is a definite arc to Raboteau’s book, and in her way, she proves Rita Marley wrong. She finds the ground she wants to make her own, and she sinks her roots there.”
—The Boston Globe

“Rings with the pang of truth.”
Slate

“Considerably more sophisticated and thought-provoking than the quest memoir Eat Pray Love…”
Winnipeg Free Press

“Her nuanced engagement with history allows for the book to acquire a sense of grace.”
— Full Stop

“Beautiful and bitter . . .”
—Religion in American History

“An investigative odyssey disguised as a youthful expat’s travelogue, the book follows Raboteau around the globe as she seeks the place sung about by Bob Marley. . . With masterful prose and insights bursting from every page, Searching for Zion explores the history of this black yearning as well as the nature of its relationship to Jews.”
— Heeb Magazine

“The book is poignant, moving and often hilarious in its bitter honesty. Raboteau builds on centuries of African-American travel narratives and wraps her narrative around global searches for Zion. The result is both jarring and inspiring. Searching for Zion is one of those rare books that shines light not only on a personal exploration of faith but on the wider fabrics of faith in the modern world.”
— The Christian Century

“At times her narration reads similarly to W.E.B. Du Bois’ classic Souls of Black Folk. It is no overstatement to say that in Du Bois’ text is perhaps the most appropriate comparative example, in style and content, of an African American author who uses the self as a lens through which to understand a land and a people. . . . Raboteau’s text gives voice to the quest for belonging and as such is a twenty-first century contribution to the ongoing struggle for peoples displaced by the modern problem of race. It suggests that the struggle is a journey, one that requires faith to persistently believe there’s a homeland for everyone, even if we have yet to find it.”
—The Revealer

“Raboteau displays a keen ear for dialogue and dialect, from patois of the Rastafarians she encounters in Jamaica, to the Irish brogue of her friend, novelist Nuala O’Faolain, to the preacher’s cadence of Southern mega-church pastor Creflo Dollar. The voices she gives to those she meets along her journey provide some of the book’s surest joys. The book resounds as deeply empathetic to those characters the narrator meets; we see them bound up with the book’s central question…that question of belonging.”
Paste

“In the way that Raboteau uses her own uncertainty to shape her understanding of what it means to be black now, she calls to mind the anthropological dimensions of Zora Neale Hurston.” —Bookforum

“This is a beautifully written and thought-provoking book. My head gets blown off every page. Though it describes Raboteau’s very unique journey for her spiritual Zion, it’s somehow wholly universal, too. Everywhere she goes, she hopes to find some straight and golden thread that would draw a line in the direction home, but instead she finds a tangle of humanity that refuses to adhere to any tidy narrative. An African-American named Robert E. Lee who lives in Ghana. Ethiopian Jews who find Jerusalem but not acceptance. And yet everyone she meets she renders with great deftness and empathy—a novelistic level of detail and understanding. I doubt there will be a more important work of nonfiction this year.”
Dave Eggers, author of A Hologram for the King and Zeitoun

“An exceptionally beautiful and well researched book about a search for the kind of home for which there is no straight route, the kind of home in which the journey itself is as revelatory as the destination. Go on this timely and poignant journey with Emily Raboteau and you will never think of home in the same way again.”
Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother I’m Dying and Create Dangerously

“Emily Raboteau has written a poignant, passionate, human-scale memoir about the biggest things: identity, faith, and the search for a place to call home in the world. Searching for Zion is as reaching as it is intimate, as original as it is old soul. I didn’t want to put this beautiful book down.”
Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

“I burned through this eye-opening book, utterly engaged with Raboteau’s search—which is, after all, everyone’s search. Raboteau presents a self full of contradictions, smoldering energy, and the willingness to lay it all bare. Searching for Zion is a glorious meditation on what it is to be alive.”
Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

Searching for Zion is both an enormously moving journey and a profound reflection on an important topic. I was hooked and could not put it down.  Emily Raboteau is a gifted and powerful writer.”
James H. Cone, author of Black Liberation Theology and The Cross and the Lynching Tree