BookBrowse Reviews A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar

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A Map of Home

by Randa Jarrar

A Map of Home
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2008, 304 pages
    Aug 2009, 305 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

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About this Book



Nidali is the Muslim equivalent of J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield, tender, caustic and wise in all the right moments

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 Daoud’s 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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