Nidali, the rebellious daughter of an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, narrates the story of her childhood in Kuwait, her teenage years in Egypt (to where she and her family fled the 1990 Iraqi invasion), and her familys last flight to Texas. Nidali mixes humor with a sharp, loving portrait of an eccentric middle-class family, and this perspective keeps her buoyant through the hardships she encounters: the humiliation of going through a checkpoint on a visit to her fathers home in the West Bank; the fights with her father, who wants her to become a famous professor and stay away from boys; the end of her childhood as Iraq invades Kuwait on her thirteenth birthday; and the scare she gives her family when she runs away from home.
Funny, charming, and heartbreaking, A Map of Home is the kind of book Tristram Shandy or Huck Finn would have narrated had they been born Egyptian-Palestinian and female in the 1970s.
Coming-of-age themes are common, but the intelligent narration provides more than enough interest to sustain the momentum. Rare is the book that makes one stay up to finish it; this is one of them, simultaneously circling in its family dramas and spiraling outwards in its connections to history and place. Adult and teen readers alike would enjoy Nidali's honest portrayal. She's the Muslim equivalent of J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, tender, caustic and wise in all the right moments. (Reviewed by Karen Rigby).
Dallas Morning News A Map of Home promises to tell us about Arab culture as we never knew it. And using young Nidali as our guide, it does, giving us a multifaceted portrayal of the Arab world.
Jarrar has endowed her narrator with an ear attuned to every note of family farce… Nidali's odyssey is as serious as it is comic and deeply moving. During the Bing Crosby-era, this tale of growing up absurd would have been compared to 'Catcher in the Rye,' and deservedly so. It's as achingly coming-of-age as it gets, as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking — like growing up.
Jarrar is sophisticated and deft, and her impressive debut is especially intriguing considering her clever use of recent Middle East history.
Starred Review. Her exhilarating voice and flawless timing make this a standout
Starred Review. A coming-of-age story that's both singular and universal - an outstanding debut.
Library Journal - Sarah Conrad Weisman
This wonderfully engaging work has vivid descriptions of the different places Nidali lives and the culture she grows up in; the only negative is that the novel is perhaps unnecessarily laced with strong language, which may make it less universally appealing. Highly recommended.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Kim Wonderful comingofage novel I think finding a well written coming of age novel that features a female protagonist is a rare event. Most of those I've read in this genre have had a sacharine-sweet lack of realism that has left me less than enthusiastic about the story. A... Read More
Arabic music is influenced by a history of conquest
and contact with numerous countries including but not
limited to Greece, Medieval Europe and Turkey. Elements of
Arabic music can also be found in non-Arabic countries. A
few common characteristics are the connection between music
and poetry, and the use of
maqamat. In Arabic music, a maqam (plural maqamat) is a
set of notes. The nearest equivalent in Western classical
music would be a mode.
Traditional instruments include:
Oud: A round-bodied stringed instrument without
Violin: The European violin (also called
Kaman/Kamanjah) was adopted into Arab music during the
19th century, replacing an indigenous two-string fiddle
that was prevalent in Egypt.
Qanun: A descendent of the old Egyptian harp (watch
& listen). Qanun means 'law' in Arabic, from
which comes the English word canon (as in the canon laws...
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...