On October 28th, Randa Jarrar, author of Him, Me, Muhammad Ali (2016), will be reading from the forthcoming collection of short stories at Chevalier's Books. Jarrar will be joined by Wendy Ortiz, author of Excavation and the forthcoming Bruja, and Myriam Gurba, author of the forthcoming memoir, Mean.
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.
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.