Books by Diana Abu-Jaber

Released: April 18, 2015

"A delectably warm and wise memoir."
An award-winning novelist tells the deliciously candid story of her unconventional path to motherhood. Read full book review >
BIRDS OF PARADISE by Diana Abu-Jaber
Released: Sept. 6, 2011

"In this provocative exploration of the fault lines of loyalty and guilt, Abu-Jaber's searing perceptions, particularly about parents and children, more than make up for a less than convincing ending or an occasional lapse into overlabored prose."
Abu-Jaber (Origin, 2007, etc.) uses a plot staple of standard-issue domestic melodrama—a family dealing with a runaway daughter—to develop a meticulous, deeply moving portrayal of imperfect human beings struggling to do right. Read full book review >
ORIGIN by Diana Abu-Jaber
Released: June 25, 2007

"Haunted, moving crime fiction."
A moody thriller from Arab-American Abu-Jaber (The Language of Baklava, 2005, etc.) that transposes the author's usual questions of identity onto a young lab tech who believes she was raised by apes. Read full book review >
Released: March 15, 2005

"Food as a way to remember or a way to forget—either way, Abu-Jaber gets it just right."
Stories of family and food that spread out like pancake batter on a griddle are about "grace, difference, faith, and love," writes Abu-Jaber (Crescent, 2003, etc.). Read full book review >
CRESCENT by Diana Abu-Jaber
Released: April 1, 2003

"What might have been the stuff of any romance is forged into a powerful story about the loneliness of exile and the limits of love. An impressive second outing by Abu-Jaber (Arabian Jazz, 1993)."
A timely fiction about Iraqi intellectuals in Los Angeles blends the whimsy of Scheherazade-style storytelling with the urgency of contemporary politics. Read full book review >
ARABIAN JAZZ by Diana Abu-Jaber
Released: June 1, 1993

You're an Arab-American writing about your community in your first novel. Should you go for a comic/satirical treatment? Do something more serious, emphasizing cultural displacement? Or broaden your canvas to include the white, nonethnic neighbors? Abu- Jaber has tried all three tacks and been overwhelmed in the process. The Ramoud family, father and two grown daughters, live in a small town in upstate New York and work at the same hospital in Syracuse. The father, Matussem, emigrated from Jordan as a young man and fell in love with and married Nora, an Irish-American who interpreted his new country for him. Since her death from typhus on a trip to Jordan, the gentle, passive Matussem has found a refuge in jazz (he's a drummer with his own group) and caring for his daughters. The younger, Melvina, is no problem; only 22, she's already Head Nurse. But Jemorah, the protagonist by default in this plotless novel, is another story. Stuck in a clerical job she hates, Jem's pushing 30 and still single, which is driving her Aunt Fatima nuts. (Fatima, whose life's ambition is to join the worthy Arab matrons on the Ladies' Pontifical Committee, is the main satirical target here.) None of Jem's three possible mates is very plausible. There's Gilbert Sesame, a fast-talking pool hustler who's here one minute, gone the next; Ricky Ellis, a local grease monkey with whom Jem makes love in the bushes; and cousin Nassir, fresh from Jordan, who warns Jem about her extended family, ``a cult organization.'' Eventually, after two crudely engineered encounters with bigots, she decides that postgraduate research into race prejudice is the answer. The other elements in this mishmash (visiting Jordanians on a credit-card rampage, poor whites tormenting themselves with coathangers and booze) only add to the confusion. Read full book review >