All the women congregated around the three of us, and the older women exchanged stories about their weddings and ... but, Sana habibti, every woman needs a husband and every man needs a wife,” her mother said, placing her hand on Sana's ...
Author: Lena Mahmoud
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
A touching debut novel chronicling the life a young Palestinian American woman between two cultures as she comes of age and as she settles into marriage. Isra Shadi, a twenty-one-year-old woman of mixed Palestinian and White descent, lives in California with her paternal amu (uncle), amtu (aunt), and cousins after the death of her mother and abandonment by her father at a young age. Ever the outcast in her amu and amtu’s household, Isra is encouraged to marry and leave. After rejecting a string of undesirable suitors, she marries Yusef, an old love from her past . . . In Amreekiya, author Lena Mahmoud deftly juggles two storylines, alternating between Isra’s youth and her current life as a married twentysomething who is torn between cultures and trying to define herself. The chapters chronicle various moments in Isra’s narrative, including her parents volatile relationship and the trials and joys of forging a partnership with Yusef. Mahmoud also examines Isra’s first visit to Palestine, the effects of sexism, how language affects identity, and what it means to have a love that overcomes unbearable pain. An exploration of womanhood from an underrepresented voice in American literature, Amreekiya is simultaneously unique and relatable. Featuring an authentic array of characters, Mahmoud’s first novel is a much-needed story in a divided world. Praise for Amreekiya “A subversive story about love and marriage . . . a feminist Palestinian project that follows its headstrong lead, Isra, through struggle and loss. This is a tense examination of what a marriage is and how gendered expectations influence love and family. It is an intimate dissection of a relationship that exists in an unequal world . . . . Mahmoud portrays the unsettling conflict between freedom and social imprisonment in Amreekiya, an unnerving novel that encourages questioning common assumptions, no matter how deep down they rest.” —Foreword Reviews “Both wise and humorous, Mahmoud’s debut novel is an intimate portrayal of an early Arab American marriage, filled with passion, loss, and ultimately forgiveness. Readers will be moved by the fierce but fragile Isra, who refuses to be defined by her family, her husband, and her society.” —Susan Muaddi Darraj, author of A Curious Land: Stories from Home “Yusef and Isra’s story is relevant for people worldwide. With poignant, beautiful writing, Mahmoud quickly draws readers into the novel, portraying all her characters with a sympathetic voice. A fantastic choice for book discussions and well worth a second reading.” —Library Journal (starred review)