Thursday, July 31, 2008

There's an interesting article here about Israeli Palestinians. Issues discussed include the Israeli anthem, the absence of Arabic poetry on school curriculum, the dissonance within Israel, and cute couples who meet in chat rooms...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A couple more reviews

A Map of Home was recently reviewed in Booklist and Alef Magazine. A short excerpt from the Booklist review:
Ah, eccentric families. In Jarrar’s first novel, the lovable Ammars are talkative, argumentative, and so alive they practically burst off the page. ... Jarrar is sophisticated and deft, and her impressive debut is especially intriguing considering her clever use of recent Middle East history
And a snippet from Alef:
[A Map of Home] sparkles with humour and intelligence. Nidali tenderly describes her rollicking family life, recounted with both a wicked sense of humour and seriousness. Nidali’s parents are larger-than-life characters. ...This brilliant book is not one to overlook.
And you can have your very own copy in a month.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Youssef Chahine, R.I.P.

Youssef Chahine was one of my favorite filmmakers. His death means I won't ever be able to see a new Chahine movie again, which depresses the hell out of me. Chahine was a versatile filmmaker; an artist and a writer whose films dipped into several genres and historical time periods, and whose films were all preoccupied with self, memory, and autonomy.

Chahine made all sorts of movies. He made autobiographical movies about growing up in Alexandria (The Alexandria trilogy). He made historical films (Saladin, Destiny, and others). He made musicals; he made post-modern films; he made films about male Jewish ballerinas; he made films about schizophrenics obsessed with balloons and women. He made great films.

His life was an example for Arab artists everywhere.

He will be missed.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Weekend

It's been a great week of reading, resettling, dancing, and watching Obama's hotness in Europe.

See you next week, y'all.

Travels with my Aunt Rocks!

I'm re-reading Graham Greene's silly romp-novel, Travels with my Aunt; it's a great Summer read, and the book he had most fun writing. Every single moment is clever, witty, and ballsy. And the Aunt of the title and the travels is one of the strongest, funniest, most inspiring female characters I've ever encountered. Definitely check it out.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"At the end of the day this siege will be a footnote.”

Gaza is opening a new, archaeological museum!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm wrapping up my residency here in Maine, where over the last few weeks, I've hiked through blueberry patches, swum in the freezing Atlantic, eaten fresh lobster, washed my clothes in a washtub, hung it up by my cabin on a twine clothesline, and finished revising my story collection.

While here, I've met amazing people, been inspired, and gotten lots of good news. I'll always remember it.

I've added a couple of exciting events to my calendar. I've been invited to the Texas Book Fest (Yee haw!) and Wordstock (Yipee!).

Now off to hike and sit on some rocks and try to spy some seals...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Kafka papers will be released, possibly covered in dog pee

According to the BBC:
They've been kept in Tel Aviv these past 40 years by Brod's secretary, Esther Hoffe, who refused all requests to examine them. ...The authorities here have warned that the damp in her flat and the hoards of dogs and cats she kept may have damaged or even destroyed the papers.

Kirkus gives A Map of Home a starred review

In this month's issue of Kirkus, A Map of Home feels the love. Here's the review in its entirety:
A first-time novelist offers a fictional take on her own complex heritage. Nidali’s Baba is Palestinian. Her Mama is half-Greek and half-Egyptian. In addition to this mixed-up background, Nidali has an American passport and a precociously peripatetic personal history. Born in Boston, Nidali grows up in Kuwait, but her family flees to Egypt during the 1990 Iraqi invasion. By the time she lands in Texas, Nidali has become a seasoned traveler, and, wherever she goes, she carries with her a keen awareness of her inescapable difference. Nidali’s story is shaped by the harsh realities of ethnic division, political uncertainty and war, but it is also, essentially, a typical coming-of-age story. Jarrar is a funny, incisive writer, and she’s positively heroic in her refusal to employ easy sentimentality or cheap pathos. Nidali is a misfit living through calamitous times, but Jarrar understands that all adolescents feel like misfits living through calamitous times. The political is always personal for Nidali. For her, bombs dropping on Kuwait mean that nobody remembers her 13th birthday. As her family drives across Iraq on their way to Egypt, she writes a letter to Saddam Hussein complaining that his invasion has separated her from her boyfriend. And, ultimately, international crises have less impact on Nidali’s life than ongoing battles between her and her Baba on subjects like curfew and college.
A coming-of-age story that’s both singular and universal—an outstanding debut.
I'm thrilled.

Monday, July 07, 2008

I’m at a writers’ residency in Maine, writing and revising and enjoying the company of some of the coolest writers and visual artists ever. I’m becoming a little addicted to the “code” we speak in; I asked one of the residents what he thought someone off the street would say if they overheard us. He said, they’d tell us to get a job.

But the job of creating is such a fun one, even when it doesn’t come easy. I love the days I have huge breakthroughs, and the days I do nothing but stare at the same few sentences, sighing and moaning.

It’s damn pretty here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Map of Home gets starred review in Publishers Weekly

Check it out. It's about the dozenth book down...