By Diana Abu-Jaber
In Diana Abu-Jaber's "impressive, entertaining" (Chicago Tribune) first novel, a small, poor-white group in upstate long island turns into domestic to the transplanted Jordanian relatives 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, after all, his daughters. Fatima is keen about seeing her nieces married—Jemorah is almost thirty! Supernurse Melvina is firmly dedicated to her paintings, yet Jemorah is ambivalent approximately her identification and position. Is she Arab? Is she American? should still she marry and, if that is so, whom? Winner of the Oregon booklet Award and finalist for the nationwide PEN/Hemingway Award, Arabian Jazz is "a pleasure to read.... you may 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 earrings musically, and hilariously, true."
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Extra resources for Arabian Jazz
Someday her portraits would show the world how strong and powerful women could be, as well as the personal cost of that strength. She unloaded the film, labeled the canister, tucked it away and reloaded, then walked through the village, smiling at people, handing out the candies and ribbons and bracelets she always carried. She took another great picture of four Himba women emerging from the smoke-and-herb sauna that was their method of keeping clean in a land devoid of water. In the picture, the women were holding hands and laughing.
Then, when they were seniors, she舗d gotten pregnant. It had terrified her at first. She舗d worried that she was like her mother, and that parenthood wouldn舗t be a good thing. But she discovered, to her profound relief, that she was the complete opposite of her own mother. Perhaps her youth had helped in that. God knew Mom had not been young when Meredith was born. Jeff shook his head. It was a minute gesture, barely even a movement, but she saw it. She had always been attuned to him, and lately their mutual disappointments seemed to create sound, like a high-pitched whistle that only she could hear.
Meredith was at her desk by eight o舗clock. As usual, she was the first to arrive and went about the cubicle-divided space on the warehouse舗s second floor flipping on lights. She passed by her dad舗s office舒empty now舒pausing only long enough to glance at the plaques by his door. Thirteen times he舗d been voted Grower of the Year and his advice was still sought out by competitors on a regular basis. It didn舗t matter that he only occasionally came into the office, or that he舗d been semi-retired for ten years.