A Jordanian widower and his family adjust to life in upstate New York in this impressive first novel.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Arabian Jazz is a look at life through the eyes of an almost thirty year-old Arabian/American woman searching for identity. Read morePublished on March 24, 2013 by Victoria Allman
Briliant! Showing a deft touch for character and charming with high hilarity, Diana Abu-Jaber introduces us to a world so beautifully realized it can only be described as... Read morePublished on March 21, 2003
This book bounces between the cute and the cliche. The reader feels there is a real story-teller waiting to get out, but suffocating under the author's clumsy craftsmanship. Read morePublished on April 13, 2001
Matussem's story gently dominates the myriad stories about his family's immigrant experiences in the United States. Read morePublished on January 10, 2000 by Myrla Magness
What a mess. The author has evidently seen more movies than she has read books; banal, cutesy and irritating, as well as badly written. Read morePublished on December 8, 1999