By Diana Abu-Jaber
In Diana Abu-Jaber's "impressive, entertaining" (Chicago Tribune) first novel, a small, poor-white neighborhood in upstate ny turns into domestic to the transplanted Jordanian relations of Matussem Ramoud: his grown daughters, Jemorah and Melvina; his sister Fatima; and her husband, Zaeed. The widower Matuseem loves American jazz, kitschy garden adorns, and, in fact, his daughters. Fatima is captivated with seeing her nieces married—Jemorah is sort of thirty! Supernurse Melvina is firmly devoted to her paintings, yet Jemorah is ambivalent approximately her id and function. Is she Arab? Is she American? should still she marry and, if that is so, whom? Winner of the Oregon ebook Award and finalist for the nationwide PEN/Hemingway Award, Arabian Jazz is "a pleasure to read.... you'll be tempted to learn passages out loud. and also you should" (Boston Globe). USA Today praises Abu-Jaber's "gift for dialogue...her Arab-American jewelry musically, and hilariously, true."
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Additional info for Arabian Jazz
When she was finished she shook her head and went back and cleared the ends of each shelf. She filled the empty space with thick, solid books on constitutional and tort law. It was an effort that we both admired. ” she asked. ” “It looks perfect,” I told her. ” For at least the first six months we lived together we remained fully committed to the principles established that morning. We were careful to talk always about the things we had, and that we owned, or that we needed. ” Angela would sometimes ask, not because she wanted an actual response but because she wanted to revel briefly in that plural possessive that she was free to employ whenever she pleased.
It had been one of my more dramatic and to my ears better efforts: the family, as I cast them, forced to take shelter for weeks in a church while outside a militia stood waiting for them. “This isn’t even close to what happened,” she said. “They flew business class straight to Dubai. ” Angela wasn’t angry so much as shocked at what I had done. One of the many things that we had easily assumed about each other was that when it came to the clients, we both saw them strictly for who they were, with no sentimentality attached to them or their plights.
I want to have a drink after work. I’ve never done that before, but people do it all the time, don’t they? I tried to do it once, but by the time I got to bar I didn’t feel like it. ” We settled on an Italian wine bar that had recently opened a few blocks away in what had been a Chinese fish market. They had kept both the wide bass-mouthed fish and the Mandarin script over the entrance. “Clever,” Angela said, and in case I missed out on the sarcasm, she added a deliberately over-the-top “Real clever,” with a double wink behind it.
Arabian Jazz by Diana Abu-Jaber