Yes, ’tis true: the novel found a home this week at Other Press. It’ll be on shelves flaunting its sassy, original paperback self sometime in 2007/2008, insha allah. I’ll divulge more once I have the details.
The novel, a profane and humorous bildungsroman, begins with the narrator’s birth to failed artists and ends about 18 years later, but it also jumps back into the ’60s and ’70s. It’s set in Kuwait, Boston, Egypt, the West Bank, and Central Texas, and explores and questions ideas of home, war, identity, family, belonging, marriage, education, and how they all tie in with art and freedom.
I began the novel in San Marcos, TX, in 2000, and after a couple of false starts, moved to a trailer in Kyle and started over. Very soon after, the voice of the narrator, Nidali, became stronger and more present, and she’d visit more regularly. Then, 9/11 happened, and for a week I felt despondent about the work and the world, but I escaped the news and sadness around me by going back into the novel. Many of the novel’s chapters — which include “You Are a 14-Year-Old Arab Chick…”–were written in the ten months that followed. I moved back to Austin and finished the first draft a year later. That was 2003. Over the last 2 and a half years, I’ve revised more and learned more about the novel and its characters.
It’s been an arduous process, and over the years, many of you gave me priceless advice, listened to me ramble, were sweet enough to write and tell me you liked my work, helped pay my rent, watched my kid, read early drafts, bought me dinner/lunch/breakfast, wrote me kind letters, told me about your early publishing experiences, made me potfuls of coffee, stayed on the phone with my good-writing-day giddy self, stayed on the phone with my bad-day melt-down self: were good, good friends.
Your encouragement has meant the world to me.
A thousand thank yous.