Read Arabian Jazz by Diana Abu-Jaber Free Online
Book Title: Arabian Jazz|
ISBN 13: 9780156000482
The author of the book: Diana Abu-Jaber
Edition: Mariner Books
Date of issue: June 30th 1994
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 39.76 MB
City - Country: No data
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Reader ratings: 4.2
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I picked this book up more or less by accident, and was thrilled to find that it takes place in Syracuse, my home town. The characters work at Johnson-Crowes hospital, which is obviously meant to be Crouse-Irving hospital, where I work. They live in Euclid, which is a real town north of the city. References to the Onondaga Indian Reservation, the Moyers Corners Fire Department, "the strip between the hospital and Syracuse University" that is Marshall Street, watching the Orangemen, and driving up to eat fish on the shore of Lake Ontario all gave me a thrill. (Although I was disappointed that on page 181, Melvina tells Jem that Onondaga Lake is salt water, which is not true. It is true that Syracuse was once one of the world's major salt producers, but the salt came from underground springs.) Why is this book not better-known locally? Why aren't Syracuse book clubs eating it up?
Of course the book is not really about Syracuse. It could have been set in almost any other American town. It is about Matussem Ramoud, immigrant from Jordan (not Jordan, near Elbridge, but Jordan the country), and his two grown daughters. Matussem is dazed and directionless since the death of his wife. His joy is playing jazz drums with his band made up of himself and a few guys from the gas station. The girls need husbands, or so the Jordanian relative insist. The book is about individuality versus family expectations. The book is about what is home? What does it mean to be Arab in America? (This was still a problematic question, even before 9/11.) And how do you deal with the death of your mother? These questions are implicit throughout most of the book's wandering, leisurely narrative, and emerge mostly at the end. The ranting of the Jordanian characters, in their accented English is hilarious, and reminded me, as it did others, of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I found the characters of the (self-described) "white trash" neighbors uncomfortably stereotypical. The info at the back of the book says that the author used to live in Euclid, New York, so I have no doubt that she based the Otts and Ellises on people she actually knew, but still... you know you're a redneck when your trailer is surrounded by trash, and you have a passel of children by different fathers, and you can't read. I also thought that in a book published in 1993, the author should have known better than to have Melvie the Super-Nurse wear a white uniform and a cap. Whites and caps were long dead by then. But I quibble. The writing was beautiful, and there was a sad, sweetness under the funny family conflict.
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Read information about the authorDiana Abu-Jaber is the award-winning author of Life Without A Recipe, Origin, Crescent, Arabian Jazz, and The Language of Baklava. Her writing has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Ms., Salon, Vogue, Gourmet, the New York Times, The Nation, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. She divides her time between Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Portland, Oregon.
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