A Map of Home: A Novel

A Map of Home: A Novel

2.6 6
by Randa Jarrar
     
 

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From America to the Middle East and back again— the sparkling story of one girl’s childhood, by an exciting new voice in literary fiction

In this fresh, funny, and fearless debut novel, Randa Jarrar chronicles the coming-of-age of Nidali, one of the most unique and irrepressible narrators in contemporary fiction. Born in 1970s Boston to an

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Overview

From America to the Middle East and back again— the sparkling story of one girl’s childhood, by an exciting new voice in literary fiction

In this fresh, funny, and fearless debut novel, Randa Jarrar chronicles the coming-of-age of Nidali, one of the most unique and irrepressible narrators in contemporary fiction. Born in 1970s Boston to an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, the rebellious Nidali—whose name is a feminization of the word “struggle”—soon moves to a very different life in Kuwait. There the family leads a mildly eccentric middle-class existence until the Iraqi invasion drives them first to Egypt and then to Texas. This critically acclaimed debut novel is set to capture the hearts of everyone who has ever wondered what their own map of home might look like.

Read Randa Jarrar's posts on the Penguin Blog.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" [An] extraordinary debut . . . Jarrar's lack of sentimentality, and her wry sense of humor, make Home a treasure."
-People (four stars)
"A Map of Home will leave you laughing out loud."
-Entertainment Weekly

"Randa Jarrar takes all the sappy, beloved clichTs about 'where you hang your hat' and blows them to smithereens in her energizing, caustically comic debut novel."
-The Christian Science Monitor

Publishers Weekly

Jarrar's sparkling debut about an audacious Muslim girl growing up in Kuwait, Egypt and Texas is intimate, perceptive and very, very funny. Nidali Ammar is born in Boston to a Greek-Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father, and moves to Kuwait at a very young age, staying there until she's 13, when Iraq invades. A younger brother is born in Kuwait, rounding out a family of complex citizenships. During the occupation, the family flees to Alexandria in a wacky caravan, bribing soldiers along the way with whiskey and silk ties. But they don't stay long in Egypt, and after the war, Nidali's father finds work in Texas. At first, Nidali is disappointed to learn that feeling rootless doesn't make her an outsider in the States, and soon it turns out the precocious and endearing Arab chick isn't very different from other American girls, a reality that only her father may find difficult to accept. Jarrar explores familiar adolescent ground-stifling parental expectations, precarious friendships, sensuality and first love-but her exhilarating voice and flawless timing make this a standout. (Sept.)

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Library Journal

Born in the United States to a Palestinian father and an Egyptian mother of Greek descent, Nidali begins life with an identity crisis on many levels. Originally assumed to be a boy, she is given a name that means "strife" or "struggle" by her father, who adds the feminizing "i" when he realizes that she is actually a girl. The family moves to Kuwait when Nidali is a baby and lives there until Iraq invades the country on Nidali's 13th birthday, forcing them to flee to Alexandria, Egypt, and eventually to Texas. Jarrar's debut novel is a coming-of-age tale told from Nidali's perspective, spanning her birth through acceptance into college. Since her parents fight constantly and her father is abusive, school serves as a refuge throughout, as Nidali studies hard, establishes friendships, and faces issues of belonging, parental expectations, religion, sexual experimentation, and rebellion. This wonderfully engaging work has vivid descriptions of the different places Nidali lives and the culture she grows up in; the only negative is that the novel is perhaps unnecessarily laced with strong language, which may make it less universally appealing. Highly recommended.
—Sarah Conrad Weisman

Kirkus Reviews
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. Agent: Jin Auh/The Wylie Agency

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143116264
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/25/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
369,891
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
" [An] extraordinary debut . . . Jarrar's lack of sentimentality, and her wry sense of humor, make Home a treasure."
-People (four stars)
"A Map of Home will leave you laughing out loud."
-Entertainment Weekly

"Randa Jarrar takes all the sappy, beloved clichTs about 'where you hang your hat' and blows them to smithereens in her energizing, caustically comic debut novel."
-The Christian Science Monitor

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