I was lucky enough to curate and guest-edit a special fiction issue from the fabulous Guernica Magazine, focusing on stories by Arab-Americans. The issue includes brand-new fiction by Diana Abu-Jaber, Alia Yunis, Laila Halaby, Patricia Sarrafian Ward, and Youmna Chlala. I hope you’ll read and enjoy the stories. Here is a snippet from my intro:
When I first went on the academic job market a few years ago, search committees asked what my dream class to teach would be. Arab-American Fiction, I said. They smiled, then invariably asked, “And which writers would you teach in that class?” I would enthusiastically share a list of names—Diana Abu-Jaber, Rabih Alameddine, Alicia Erian, Mohja Kahf, Patricia Sarrafian Ward, Laila Lalami, Leila Halaby—and, usually, none of the names registered. “Do you teach your own book?” some of them asked. I do not. But I do teach short stories by Grace Paley, ZZ Packer, Alice Munro, Nami Mun, Jane Bowles, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Toni Morrison (well, “Recitatif,” Morrison’s short story, and a damn good one). “Why,” some committees asked me, “do you teach American literature alongside Arab-American fiction?”
“Because,” I would answer, “Arab-American fiction is American literature.”
Which is why I wanted to put this issue together: to showcase some of contemporary American literature’s strongest voices, and spotlight the voices of newer, more up-and-coming authors. Here, one can see that certain themes—both grave and airy-light—preoccupy these writers: Palestine. Body image. War. Sex. Pizza.
Read the rest here.