A Map of Home begins with the aftermath of Nidali's birth. Her father names her Nidal, thinking she's a boy, adding the "i" only after realizing his mistake. So begins a journey filled with expectation, chaos, love, music and strife. The novel could easily form the backbone for an independent film with its hyperbolic characters, dialogue zingers, rapid pacing, and everything from war to multiculturalism to a teenager's first sexual explorations. The territory covered in this debut is handled with grace by Jarrar, whose eye for imagery is equal to that of a cinematographer's: the pianos saved by Mama decorating the Texas yard, the announcement for Baba's poetry reading, Wonder Woman stickers adorning a headboard, a car burning in the desert, and even ordinary occurrences with the potential to become running gags, like the making of za'tar, burgers ...
Randa Jarrar was born in Chicago in 1978, and grew up in Kuwait and
Egypt. She is a writer and translator whose award-winning fiction has appeared
in Ploughshares as well as in numerous anthologies. Her translations from the
Arabic have appeared in Words Without Borders: The World Through the Eyes of
Writers; recently, she has translated Hassan Daouds novel, The Year of the
Revolutionary New Bread-Making Machine. She currently lives in Ann Arbor,
Michigan. A Map of Home is her first novel.
Interesting Link: "You are a 14-Year-Old Arab Chick Who Just Moved to Texas" by Randa Jarrar.
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