Once in a Promised Land by Laila Halaby
A Novel

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Synopsis

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Once in a Promised Land is the story of a couple, Jassim and Salwa, who left the deserts of their native Jordan for those of Arizona, each chasing their own dreams of opportunity and freedom. Although the two live far from Ground Zero, they cannot escape the nationwide fallout from 9/11. Jassim, a hydrologist, believes passionately in his mission to keep the water tables from dropping and make water accessible to all people, but his work is threatened by an FBI witch hunt for domestic terrorists. Salwa, a Palestinian now twice displaced, grappling to put down roots in an inhospitable climate, becomes pregnant against her husband's wishes and then loses the baby. When Jassim kills a teenage boy in a terrible accident and Salwa becomes hopelessly entangled with a shady young American, their tenuous lives in exile and their fragile marriage begin to unravel . This intimate account of two parallel lives is an achingly honest look at what it means to straddle cultures, to be viewed with suspicion, and to struggle to find save haven.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Laila Halaby

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Laila Halaby was born in Beirut, Lebanon, to a Jordanian father and an American mother. She speaks four languages, won a Fulbright scholarship to study folklore in Jordan, and holds a master's degree in Arabic literature. Her first novel, West of the Jordan, won the prestigious PEN Beyond Margins Award. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, with her family. 
 
Published January 15, 2007 by Beacon Press. 349 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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In her second novel, Halaby (West of the Jordan, 2003) explores cultural gulfs, immigrant alienation and racist stereotypes, via the relationship between Jassim and Salwa Haddad, and between the Haddads and the US.

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Their home in an upscale section of a desert city in America carries reminders for them both of their childhood homes in Jordan, as well as a sense of satisfaction that they have both exceeded what their native land could offer them.

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