Award-winning novelist Randa Jarrar's new story collection moves seamlessly between realism and fable, history and the present, capturing the lives of Muslim women and men across myriad geographies and circumstances. With acerbic wit, deep tenderness, and boundless imagination, Jarrar brings to life a memorable cast of characters, many of them "accidental transients"—a term for migratory birds who have gone astray—seeking their circuitous routes back home. Fierce and feeling, Him, Me, Muhammad Ali is a testament to survival in the face of love, loss, and displacement.
Randa Jarrar is the author of a highly successful novel, A Map of Home, which received an Arab-American Book Award and was named one of the best novels of 2008 by the Barnes & Noble Review. She grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, and moved to the United States after the first Gulf War. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Utne Reader, Salon.com, Guernica, the Rumpus, the Oxford American, Ploughshares, and more. She blogs for Salon, and lives in California.
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Randa Jarrar: Randa Jarrar is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, essayist, and translator. Her novel A Map of Home was published in six languages, won an Arab-American Book Award, and was named one of the best novels of 2008 by The Barnes & Noble Review.
Winner of the 2017 Story Prize Spotlight Award
One of the 25 Best Short Story Collections of 2016, Electric Literature
Most Anticipated Books of 2016, The Millions
A Key Collection for Fall 2016, Library Journal
"[A] brave, bright, tell-it-like-it-is collection . Impressively varied in style and content, Jarrar’s collection is recommended for a wide range of readers.”
Sharp and irreverent.... When Jarrar’s sense of humor tangles with her character’s feelings of
estrangement, the results are often charming and funny.”
Los Angeles Times
"Jarrar follows up her novel, A Map of Home, with a collection of stories depicting the lives of Arab women, ranging from hypnotic fables to gritty realism . Often witty and cutting, these stories transport readers and introduce them to a memorable group of women."
"A subtle interrogation of class spanning multiple generations and an exploration of desire enlivened by a dash of magical realism."
"The thirteen stories in this collection blend humor with rage, wit with pathos. Jarrar presents an astonishing variety, each story as inventive as it is insightful. It’s a book for this oppressive electoral season, where presidential politics are ugly and destructive, and demagoguery is endeavoring to trample a core American truth: Our country’s strength derives from open borders. Jarrar is here with a correction."
"Funny and darkly imaginative . The stories are confessional and riveting by means of the deeply intimate and vulnerable spaces Jarrar’s characters allow us to access . Jarrar’s fiction has exciting range, and she investigates narrative as well as social taboo. Even when her often-fantastical stories veer towards fable, she subverts any expectation of threadbare fairy tale, always finding affecting depths . Like the tightrope walker in the opening story, Jarrar pulls off incredible feats again and again.”
The Portland Mercury
"These stories showcase the strength and talent of a writer of immeasurable gift and grace, who confronts the poignant and often brutal realities her characters face with sass and verve."
Los Angeles Review of Books
Jarrar...manages to imbue her stories and characters with unabashed satire and biting language, melded with an expansive, imaginative geography . In this new, beautifully crafted collection she moves seamlessly from Istanbul to Sydney to Seattle, with stories featuring colourful characters from a variety of Arab backgrounds . This endearing book, and its vulnerable characters, indelibly leaves the reader with an intimate sense of love and loss."
The National (UAE)
"Jarrar’s style sensitive, peculiar, and closely observed [has] roots in Russian literature, but its rhythm sounds modern and entirely her own. Her best descriptions are about relationships and the details we observe in the people we kind of hate but mostly love. Weird, hilarious, melodramatic, gorgeous, and sincerely resonant."
"Jarrar’s work seeks to expand literary representation of Arab people, and her stories take place in cities and countries all over the world.... Bold, wry stories depicting the lives of (mostly) Arab men and women, from Cairo to New York to Palestine to Sydney to Istanbul."
Signature, "10 Worldwide Rad Women Writers You Should Know"
"This collection of stories explores an array of Muslim voices spanning several cities and continents, all focusing on seeking freedom and love amid displacement and loss.... These voices and experiences need to be heard now more than ever."
Fodor'sTravel, "Fodor's Holiday Gift Guide 2016"
"As a queer, Muslim, Palestinian-American and proud fat femme, Jarrar lives the complexities of intersectionality. Fortunately for her readers, she infuses those complexities into her characters . She shows their connections and differences by leaving no topic unexplored class, language, and sexuality are all at the core of the book. Her style is straightforward and direct while being multifaceted and thought-provoking.”
"Randa Jarrar does what every brave story-teller should do she makes sense of what other writers leave outside the bounds. She connects us with that which others have left unsaid."
Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin and Transatlantic
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali is a searing collection of short stories about loving, lusting, losing, and surviving. Randa Jarrar is one of the finest writers of her generation. Her voice is assured, fiercely independent, laced with humor and irony and always, always, honest.”
Laila Lalami, author of The Moor’s Account and The Secret Son
Randa Jarrar’s prose is bold and luscious and makes the darkly comic seem light. The voices in Him, Me, Muhammad Ali are powerful individually and overwhelming as a chorus. This wonderful work isn’t just a collection; it’s a world.”
Mat Johnson, author of Pym and Loving Day
These vibrant, funny, earthy, and above all, yearning (for love, for family, for home) stories are a revelation. Jarrar combines the invention of Calvino, the sprung style of Paley, the poetic imagery of Babel....But that mash-up isn’t mere stylistic exuberance; it’s a restless, relentless and deeply affecting effort to forge identity out of fragments, to make a whole out of halves. These are the stories we need right now.”
Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl and The Ugliest House in the World
The stories of Randa Jarrar are fearless, funny, and sad, soaring and earthly, fable-like and visceral, full of families, lovers, friends, strangers and lonely children. These stories laugh with and think through and rise against, which is just to say they brilliantly demonstrate Jarrar’s huge talent, compassion and range. Him, Me, Muhammed Ali astonishes from start to finish.”
Sam Lipsyte. author of Venus Drive, The Ask, and The Fun Parts
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