Arabian Jazz by Diana Abu-Jaber
(Harvest Book)

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Synopsis

"This oracular first novel, which unfurls like gossamer [has] characters of a depth seldom found in a debut."—The New Yorker


In Diana Abu-Jaber's "impressive, entertaining" (Chicago Tribune) first novel, a small, poor-white community in upstate New York becomes home to the transplanted Jordanian family of Matussem Ramoud: his grown daughters, Jemorah and Melvina; his sister Fatima; and her husband, Zaeed. The widower Matuseem loves American jazz, kitschy lawn ornaments, and, of course, his daughters. Fatima is obsessed with seeing her nieces married—Jemorah is nearly thirty! Supernurse Melvina is firmly committed to her work, but Jemorah is ambivalent about her identity and role. Is she Arab? Is she American? Should she marry and, if so, whom? Winner of the Oregon Book Award and finalist for the National PEN/Hemingway Award, Arabian Jazz is "a joy to read.... You will be tempted to read passages out loud. And you should" (Boston Globe). USA Today praises Abu-Jaber's "gift for dialogue...her Arab-American rings musically, and hilariously, true." Reading group guide included. "[A] joy to read.... You will be tempted to read passages out loud. And you should."—Boston Globe "[Abu-Jaber's] Arab-American rings musically, and hilariously, true."—USA Today
 

About Diana Abu-Jaber

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Diana Abu-Jaber is the award-winning author of Origin, Crescent, Arabian Jazz, and The Language of Baklava. Her writing has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Ms., Salon, Vogue, Gourmet, the New York Times, The Nation, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. She divides her time between Coral Gables, Florida, and Portland, Oregon.
 
Published February 14, 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company. 384 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Arabian Jazz

Kirkus Reviews

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and cousin Nassir, fresh from Jordan, who warns Jem about her extended family, ``a cult organization.'' Eventually, after two crudely engineered encounters with bigots, she decides that postgraduate research into race prejudice is the answer.

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Publishers Weekly

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A Jordanian widower and his family adjust to life in upstate New York in this impressive first novel.

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Los Angeles Times

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Jazz and literature are quite complementary art forms, though you'd never know it from the scant amount of prose that has been written about what's been called "the sound of surprise" and where the improviser's role is to "tell a story."

Jun 24 1993 | Read Full Review of Arabian Jazz (Harvest Book)

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