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Fencing with the King: Book summary and reviews of Fencing with the King by Diana Abu-Jaber

Fencing with the King

A Novel

by Diana Abu-Jaber

Fencing with the King by Diana Abu-Jaber X
Fencing with the King by Diana Abu-Jaber
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Mar 15, 2022
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A mesmerizing breakthrough novel of family myths and inheritances by the award-winning author of Crescent.

Amani is hooked on a mystery―a poem on airmail paper that slips out of one of her father's books. It seems to have been written by her grandmother, a refugee who arrived in Jordan during the First World War. Soon the perfect occasion to investigate arises: her Uncle Hafez, an advisor to the King of Jordan, invites her father to celebrate the king's sixtieth birthday―and to fence with the king, as in their youth. Her father has avoided returning to his homeland for decades, but Amani persuades him to come with her. Uncle Hafez will make their time in Jordan complicated―and dangerous―after Amani discovers a missing relative and is launched into a journey of loss, history, and, eventually, a fight for her own life.

Fencing with the King masterfully draws on King Lear and Arthurian fable to explore the power of inheritance, the trauma of displacement, and whether we can release the past to build a future.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Diana Abu Jaber outdoes herself with this brilliantly paced and utterly absorbing novel. From start to finish, her dynamic prose and seemingly effortless storytelling create an original narrative of love, intrigue, and family/global dynamics. Fencing with the King is a flavorful page-turner that will both nourish and satiate. You are in for a treat." ― Laila Halaby, author of Once in a Promised Land

"Fencing With the King is a delicate arabesque of intertwining family relationships. Moving through the bouganvillia-splashed villas of upper-class Jordan, a poet raised in America struggles to decode her father's world of allusion, indirection and heartbreaking secrets.  The novel probes the cost of exile and voluntary expatriation, asking: When is inheritance a blessing, and when is it merely a burden?" ― Geraldine Brooks, author of The Secret Chord

"Fencing With the King, about a young American woman's encounter with her Jordanian family and their complex legacy, is a rare pleasure. Abu-Jaber's rich characters live and breathe around you, and her nuance and wit bring the largest themes to irresistible, present life." ― Claire Massud, author of A Burning Girl

"The best novel I've read all year: shimmering prose, compelling emotion, and utterly impossible to put down. Rarely has the terroir of ancestry been so masterfully evoked. Abu-Jaber's best yet." ― Nicole Mones, author of The Last Chinese Chef

"I read Diana Abu-Jaber's Fencing With the King in one sitting -- I couldn't stop. Ambitious, vivid, compelling, and full of life, this rich family story tells so many truths and uses family myths and fables to explore complex history, intergenerational trauma, and the wounds of exile and displacement. An absolute must read." ― Etaf Rum, author of A Woman is No Man

This information about Fencing with the King shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Julia E. (Atlanta, GA)

Fascinating Family Saga
Fencing With the King is an absorbing fictional saga inspired by members of award-winning author, Diana Abu-Jaber's, paternal roots. Her father descends from upper-class Jordanians, and the society and culture of late 20th century Jordon inspire the characters and structure of the story. A professor of English at Portland State in Oregon, Abu-Jaber's weaves of tale of high-stakes family intrigue as seen through the eyes of Amani, a young, attractive Jordanian-American on her first trip to her father's homeland. In the company of her father. This would be a great pick for book clubs whose members enjoy easily digested armchair travel to this intricately beautiful part of the world.

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Author Information

Diana Abu-Jaber Author Biography

Diana Abu-Jaber is the author of several novels, including Arabian Jazz, Crescent, and Birds of Paradise. Crescent was awarded the 2004 PEN Center USA Award for Literary Fiction and the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award and was named one of the twenty best novels of 2003 by The Christian Science Monitor. Arabian Jazz won the 1994 Oregon Book Award and was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award.

She is also the author of a memoir, The Language of Baklava.

She teaches at Portland State University and divides her time between Portland and Miami.

Author Interview
Link to Diana Abu-Jaber's Website

Name Pronunciation
Diana Abu-Jaber: AH-boo JAH-ber

Other books by Diana Abu-Jaber at BookBrowse
  • Origin jacket
  • Crescent jacket

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