Arabian Jazz: A Novel

By Diana Abu-Jaber

"This oracular first novel, which unfurls like gossamer [has] characters of a intensity seldom present in a debut."―The New Yorker

In Diana Abu-Jaber's "impressive, exciting" (Chicago Tribune) first novel, a small, poor-white neighborhood in upstate manhattan turns into domestic to the transplanted Jordanian family members of Matussem Ramoud: his grown daughters, Jemorah and Melvina; his sister Fatima; and her husband, Zaeed. The widower Matuseem loves American jazz, kitschy garden embellishes, and, after all, his daughters. Fatima is keen about seeing her nieces married―Jemorah is sort of thirty! Supernurse Melvina is firmly devoted to her paintings, yet Jemorah is ambivalent approximately her identification and position. Is she Arab? Is she American? should still she marry and, if this is the case, whom? Winner of the Oregon e-book Award and finalist for the nationwide PEN/Hemingway Award, Arabian Jazz is "a pleasure to read.... you can be tempted to learn passages out loud. and also you should still" (Boston Globe). USA Today praises Abu-Jaber's "gift for dialogue...her Arab-American jewelry musically, and hilariously, true."

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Jem remembered little of the festival itself, past nestling into her mother’s lap because the nightfall faltered and the coloured spotlights started to sprint the mountaintop. Melvina used to be perched on their father’s lap, following the lighting fixtures with an in depth, sensible eye, skeptical as a theater critic. Jem couldn't bear in mind ever listening to her sister cry and he or she may perhaps scarcely remember her drowsing both. yet she remembered quite a lot of these black child eyes being sharply watchful over a global that, to Melvie, required recognition and governance.

A few acknowledged Fatima slapped first; others, that Melvina pulled a switchblade. Jem observed all of it, from the slap to the insurrection that spontaneously combusted round them. Estrelia grabbed Melvie, and without warning 100 males have been yelling and swinging at one another, launching right into a free-for-all. every body was once shouting in Arabic, shrieking approximately moms, Arabs, american citizens, and patriotism typically. From what Jem may well inform, the men—though all drunk—swiftly factionalized, Saudis with Saudis, Lebanese with Lebanese, etc.

She was once the item itself. A planet, floating shut sufficient to the touch, permitting Jem a glance on the wonder of her floor. Then Portia stated, “Did I ever let you know I knew your mom in collage? ” Jem held her breath; her strategies scattered. Portia had drawn an arm throughout the area among them and stuck up Jem’s hopes in a single hand. For a second she notion Portia could possibly inform her the aim in the back of her mother’s dying, solution the secret of its suddenness. probably, Jem concept, she have been wrong approximately Portia’s intentions.

The Eastern-styled icons, heavy-lidded and owl-eyed, smiled at her in blessing. again within the reception corridor, the lengthy tables have been crammed to means as servers introduced out vats of filled grape leaves, squash, tabouli, rice, roast lamb, and loaves of Arabic bread. there have been bottles of arak, which the boys referred to as for many times. The scent of cooking rose in a rainy fog. The church janitors had spontaneously referred to as all their neighbors and relations. Now a wide crew of them have been appearing tribal dances opposed to the again wall, brandishing lengthy swords.

She shrugged, then nodded. “In California. ” “California. ” “Stanford. ” “Okay. ” He pressed his fingers jointly, blew out. “Okay. i do know I’m a dicy individual. I paintings at a gasoline station. even though Larry Fasco has pointed out me approaching as a companion on the Key West. after all, Larry…well, you recognize him. ” there has been a protracted pause, then he stated, “I don’t be aware of. probably shall we get married. I wouldn’t say that I’d precisely been making plans for it. Hell, it'd be enjoyable, marriage. lets get an incredible cake. ” He checked out Jem.

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