Randa Jarrar biography

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Randa Jarrar

Randa Jarrar

Randa Jarrar Biography

Randa Jarrar is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, and translator. Randa grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, and she moved to the US after the first Gulf War. At the age of 13, she enrolled in 10th grade, and went on to attend Sarah Lawrence College at 16. Two years later, she became a single mom, and by the age of 22, she had a Masters' degree, a four- year-old, and a desire to write a novel. She began A Map of Home at the age of 23, writing the bulk of it in a trailer in small-town Texas. A Map of Home was published in half a dozen languages & won a Hopwood Award, an Arab-American Book Award, and was named one of the best novels of 2008 by the Barnes and Noble Review. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Five Chapters, Guernica, The Oxford American, The New York Times Magazine, The Utne Reader, Salon.com, The Rumpus, and others. She has received fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Hedgebrook, Caravansarai, and Eastern Frontier, and she was chosen to take part in Beirut39, which celebrates the 39 most gifted writers of Arab origin under the age of 40.

Randa Jarrar's website

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Interview

In an exclusive interview with BookBrowse reviewer Karen Rigby, Randa Jarrar discusses how her personal experiences and insights into Muslim culture are reflected in her writing, and her plans for future books.

Readers are likely to notice similarities between your bio. and Nidali's background and may wonder if the novel is something of a roman a clef - how did you go about creating her character?

Nidali and I definitely have a lot in common…she’s an exaggerated version of my younger self. She’s brave and funny. The most important thing for me was making her voice grow over the course of the book. So in the beginning her voice is very child-like, and as she approaches adulthood it becomes more profane.

I still remember where I was when the novel’s first lines came to me. For months, I’d been writing failed first chapters with characters that were similar to Nidali but not as energetic or sassy. But when those first lines came to me, that first chapter flowed out, and Nidali was finally born, both in the book and as a character. It was in the writing of that first chapter that her voice, her worldview, and her history became cemented for me.


A Map of Home--the title suggests many themes, from rootlessness to the search for home to belonging to many countries--would you speak a bit about the importance of place in your writing?

I grew up the daughter of parents who’d experienced a lot of ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Randa Jarrar at BookBrowse
A Map of Home jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Randa Jarrar but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
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  • Ayad Akhtar

    Ayad Akhtar

    Ayad Akhtar was born in New York City and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is the author of American Dervish, published in over twenty languages worldwide and a 2012 Best Book of the Year at Kirkus Reviews, Toronto's Globe ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    A Map of Home

    Try:
    American Dervish
    by Ayad Akhtar

  • Monica Ali

    Monica Ali

    Monica Ali is the daughter of English and Bangladeshi parents.

    She came to England at the age of three, and her first home was Bolton in Greater Manchester. Ali later studied at Oxford University.

    Her first novel, Brick ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    A Map of Home

    Try:
    Brick Lane
    by Monica Ali

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