AUTHOR: Randa Jarrar
PUBLISHER: Other Press
AWARDS: Hopwood Award, Arab American Book Award for Fiction (2009), Million Writers Award, Geoffrey James Gosling Prize
A Map of Home
by Randa Jarrar
Nidali narrates the story of her childhood in Kuwait, her teenage years in Egypt, and her family’s last flight to Texas, offering a humorous, sharp but loving portrait of an eccentric middle-class family.
Nidali, the rebellious daughter of an Egyptian-Greek mother and a Palestinian father, narrates the story of her childhood in Kuwait, her teenage years in Egypt (to where she and her family fled the 1990 Iraqi invasion), and her family’s last flight to Texas. Nidali mixes humor with a sharp, loving portrait of an eccentric middle-class family, and this perspective keeps her buoyant through the hardships she encounters: the humiliation of going through a checkpoint on a visit to her father’s home in the West Bank; the fights with her father, who wants her to become a famous professor and stay away from boys; the end of her childhood as Iraq invades Kuwait on her thirteenth birthday; and the scare she gives her family when she runs away from home.
A main character (Nidali) is attracted to people of multiple genders.
“I replayed that kiss over and over in my mind, tried to figure out what it meant that I liked both girls and boys. It was bad enough to like boys! It was bad, bad, bad, and I was bad, and Baba told me so as his hands slapped and his feet kicked and his house slipper struck my skin over and over again. But he thought I was bad because I hadn’t come home straight after school. If only he knew! I was cowering on the floor, or running toward my room, or he held my hands with one of his big hands and slapped my cheek with his other one. Yes, I deserved to be punished, I thought to myself. Punish me. And then it didn’t hurt because the memory of the kiss, of the way it transplanted me back home, made the pain loosen and drift away from me, like a plucked eyebrow hair, or a clump of dirt worried free of the earth and away from the buffalo’s hunger.”
— Randa Jarrar, A Map of Home