By Diana Abu-Jaber
In Diana Abu-Jaber's "impressive, entertaining" (Chicago Tribune) first novel, a small, poor-white neighborhood in upstate long island turns into domestic to the transplanted Jordanian relations of Matussem Ramoud: his grown daughters, Jemorah and Melvina; his sister Fatima; and her husband, Zaeed. The widower Matuseem loves American jazz, kitschy garden embellishes, and, in fact, his daughters. Fatima is enthusiastic 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 function. Is she Arab? Is she American? should still she marry and, if this is the case, whom? Winner of the Oregon ebook 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 jewelry musically, and hilariously, true."
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Extra info for Arabian Jazz
I still need it. You think I don’t have needs? I’m 82 and my libido is raging. Look at Carla. Ninety-two. ” I stared at Carla. She was small, hunched over, her curled bouffant was tilted with her head, a little to the left. I didn’t think she still wanted it. But Mary called her over anyway. ” I was starting to panic. I would have to call the numbers again in a second. The other women were getting restless. ” Carla stared at me. Her eyes said that she still wanted it. “Libido. ” “My husband’s dead.
Like it was a decision I’d been laboring over, losing sleep over. ” He started walking away, pulling out a cigarette from his pack and lighting it. He called me Anka. The diminutive, the child tense. He didn’t take me seriously. He turned around and inhaled deeply, squeezing his eyes like he was in pain or trying to smile. He kept staring at me while walking away. ” LEV WAS STARING AT ME THROUGH THE screen. He was watching me walk around my apartment with my towel slipping off. ” He sang it to me.
I understand the importance of looking good at work. When we first came to this country my mother went to work bra-less and without stockings. She was scolded by the owner’s wife and made to wear a bra and nude stockings in the sweltering heat. She would come home and peel the stockings off her sweaty legs. She would tell me they said she looked too foreign, indecent. In America you couldn’t show skin. You could not show your legs. You had to hide your skin with the appearance of skin, a bit browner than your own.
Arabian Jazz by Diana Abu-Jaber
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