Him, Me, Muhammad Ali, Randa Jarrar
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali, Randa Jarrar
Available for preorder.
Publication date October 1, 2016.
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali is Randa Jarrar’s first and absolutely stellar short story collection. In the title story, a misunderstood family anecdote becomes central to a young woman’s journey to come to terms with her father’s death. Bouncing between Cairo, New York, Palestine, Sydney, Jackson, Istanbul, and more, Randa’s stories brilliantly capture our world, sometimes refracted through the mythic, but always grounded in vivid prose and sly humor. Vibrant writing is tempered by the reality of what is projected on these (often Arab) characters. And yet these projections do not limit the characters, as they reveal resonant and otherworldly narratives, only to find truth no less magical than their creations. We are brought into the worlds of these “accidental transients”—a term for migratory birds who have gone astray, here tenderly capturing displaced characters.
People magazine gave Jarrar’s novel four stars, calling it an extraordinary debut. Now she engages the short form in Him Me & Muhammad Ali. Bouncing between Cairo, New York, Palestine, Sydney, and Istanbul, these stories explore the worlds of ‘accidental transients’ or displaced people. There’s a complicated relationship between a distinguished Egyptian feminist and her lackey, an emerging writer. A little girl is kidnapped in a toy store and raised by a tribe of women. Zelwa the Halfie is part human, part ibex, and considering surgery. This book is tender, caustic, and wise at all the right moments.
Randa Jarrar is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, essayist, and translator. She grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, and moved to the U.S. after the first Gulf War. Her novel A Map of Home, was published in six languages and won a Hopwood Award, an Arab-American Book Award, and was named one of the best novels of 2008 by the Barnes & Noble Review. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Utne Reader, Salon.com, Guernica, The Rumpus, The Oxford American, Ploughshares, Five Chapters, and other venues. She’s received fellowships and residencies from the Lannan Foundation at Marfa, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Hedgebrook, Caravansarai, and Eastern Frontier. In 2010, the Hay Festival and Beirut UNESCO’s world capital of the book named Jarrar one of the most gifted writers of Arab origin under the age of 40.
PRAISE FOR HIM, ME, MUHAMMAD ALI:
“[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.”
“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.”
“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
“Wow! 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—heck, some of the stories come on like a female, Arab American Junot Díaz! 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.”