A “proper” bio:
Randa Jarrar’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Buzzfeed, The Utne Reader, Salon, The Offing, Guernica, The Rumpus, The Oxford American, Ploughshares, The Sun, Medium, and others. Her first book, the Arab-American coming of age novel, A Map of Home, was published in seven languages & won a Hopwood Award and an Arab-American Book Award. Her second book, Him, Me, Muhammad Ali, won an American Book Award, a PEN Oakland Award, and a Story Prize Spotlight Award, and was named a Key Collection for Fall 2016 by Library Journal and one of Electric Literature‘s 25 best collections of the year. Her forthcoming book of nonfiction, Love Is An Ex-Country, will be released by Catapult in February of 2021.
Jarrar is the Executive Director of RAWI, a literary nonprofit that serves Arab-American writers. She has received a Creative Capital Award in support of her upcoming novel, LUNCH AT GUANTANAMO, as well as awards and fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, Hedgebrook, and others. In 2010, she was named one of the most gifted writers of Arab origin under the age of 40. She is the translator of several Arabic short stories and a novel, and has taught creative writing for over 15 years.
Here is a fun timeline for your pleasure:
1978: I am born to an Egyptian Mama and a Palestinian Baba in Chicago. We move to Kuwait two months later.
1982: I begin school early and my journey of nerddom and doing-things-too-soon begins.
1990: Iraq invades Kuwait and I move to Alexandria, Egypt.
1991: My dad gets a job in NYC and I move to White Plains, NY
1992: I move to Old Greenwich, CT, which is so white it scars me for life.
1994: I enroll at Sarah Lawrence College at the age of 16 – see under 1982.
1996: I give birth to my son at age 18 because- see under 1982. I get married and I get divorced.
1998: My son and I move to Austin, TX to escape my family and ex.
2000: I receive an MA in Middle Eastern Studies.
2000: I begin a novel.
2001: We move to a trailer in Kyle, TX (pop. 5,000 at the time) & I begin novel again. 9/11 happens. I decide no one will read a novel about an Arab-American Muslim girl. I decide yes they fucking will. I keep writing.
2003: I finish draft of novel.
2004: I begin revising novel. I continue to raise my kiddo solo.
2006: I sell novel.
2006: I move to Ann Arbor to attend University of Michigan’s MFA program. My son begins playing bass.
2007: Novel wins Hopwood Award
2008: I receive my MFA in fiction. Novel is released to huge acclaim and gets picked up in 6 countries.
2009: I begin a second book. My son begins playing guitar. He is dizzyingly good.
2010: I move to CA to become a professor.
2011: I begin to publish more essays and creative nonfiction. I go to Istanbul for 5 weeks and write on a residency.
2012: I begin a collection of stories. I go to Italy and stay in a castle on a fellowship. My son hates that I do this.
2013: I try to visit Palestine and am denied entry.
2014: I divorce my second husband who I had lied to my mama and told her he had converted to Islam but he was just White and not Muslim oops.
2015: I sell my collection of stories to a publisher. I go to Marfa TX and stay at the Lannan foundation and begin a memoir. My son no longer hates me. He’s a musician and living in San Francisco and working as a gondolier on Lake Merritt.
2016: My collection is published to critical acclaim and I win some awards. My son moves home and now I’m the one who hates him. I drive cross country to New York and back for memoir research and also because I can’t deal with my kid’s goat smell.
2017: I work hard on my memoir.
2018: I finish and sell my memoir. I also become the target of racist white nationalists who send me 800 death threats and call me a camel cunt, which I wish I could call my memoir. I move to Los Angeles. I start doing standup.
2019: I get to do standup with Sammy Obeid, one of my heroes, and keep working on my scripts.
Timeline will continue as drama accrues…
Order Him, Me, Muhammad Ali, here
Read Randa’s short stories and essays here.