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Amreekiya: A Novel

by Lena Mahmoud

Availablecloth$24.95 978-0-8131-7637-6
Availableweb pdf$24.95 978-0-8131-7638-3
Availableepub$24.95 978-0-8131-7639-0
The University Press of Kentucky New Poetry and Prose Series
194 pages  Pubdate: 11/09/2018  6 x 9  

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The web pdf edition is currently being discounted by 15% as part of our holiday sale. Use code FHOL or FSNO at checkout to receive sale prices.

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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, they eagerly encourage Isra 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 the volatile relationship of her parents 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.

Lena Mahmoud was nominated for Pushcart Prizes for her story “Al Walad” and her essay “The Psyche of a Palestinian-American Writer” and was shortlisted for the OWT Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sinister Guru, KNOT Magazine, Pulp Literature, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and Sukoon.

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)

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

Lena Mahmoud’s novel, Amreekiya, takes us through the story of Isra, a young Palestinian American woman, as she negotiates the liminal space between cultures, generations, and gender. Mahmoud brings the past and present together, moving the novel back and forth to blur the distinctions of time. As we watch Isra grow, she becomes a catalyst for the interrogation of gender roles within the dynamics of cultural tensions. This is an honest and vulnerable story where Mahmoud manages the escalating tensions and the delicate balance of familial relationships with a skilled hand. The fabric of Palestine lives beneath this narrative, weaving into the lives of these characters as they as they struggle for place and identity in their new world. -- Pauline Kaldas, author of Looking Both Ways: An Egyptian-American Journey