Reviews

Kirkus: (Starred Review):“… Jarrar is a funny, incisive writer, and she’s positively heroic in her refusal to employ easy sentimentality or cheap pathos. …A coming-of-age story that’s both singular and universal—an outstanding debut.”

People: “Depictions of her hilarious family…are punchy and vibrant. Jarrar’s lack of sentimentality and her wry sense of humor make Home a treasure. 4/4”

Christian Science Monitor: “Randa Jarrar takes all the sappy, beloved clichés about “where you hang your hat” and blows them to smithereens in her energizing, caustically comic debut novel, A Map of Home.”

Publishers Weekly: (Starred Review): “Jarrar’s sparkling debut about an audacious Muslim girl growing up in Kuwait, Egypt and Texas is intimate, perceptive and very, very funny. … her exhilarating voice and flawless timing make this a standout.”

Entertainment Weekly: With her big brain, big wit, and big personality, Nidali has a tough time conforming to her father’s rigid 
standards. … Some parts — like Nidali’s grandmother’s fable about flatulence — will leave you laughing out loud. A-”

BookBrowse: “Rare is the book that makes one stay up to finish it; this is one of them, simultaneously circling in its family dramas and spiraling outwards in its connections to history and place. …She’s the Muslim equivalent of J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield, tender, caustic and wise in all the right moments.”

Oxford American: “In Randa Jarrar’s A Map of Home, Nidali, a refugee from Saddam’s bombs, finds a Texan adolescence dizzying to navigate with her Egyptian-Grecian-Palestinian background. Jarrar’s prose is as delightfully dry and intense as her main character… . Sarcastic essays, Arabic lyrics juxtaposed with American rap, and other anecdotes present cross-cultural observations that are both humorous and wistful.”

Bust Magazine: ” Nidali’s voice is a winning combination of the detailed observations of a wannabe writer and the snark of an acerbic adolescent, and with her as a tour guide, readers won’t need a map through this spectacular fresh and funny debut novel.”

Bitch Magazine: “Jarrar…has created a tale of crossing borders (geographic, sexual, cultural, and otherwise) that challenges readers to remap the boundaries of “normal” adolescence.”

Electronic Intifada: “As lyrical as Arundhati Roy or Mourid Barghouti, Jarrar’s pacing is tight and her dialogue approaches perfection. With light and loving characterizations that are entirely free of false romance, her tone is wry, sunny, very feminine and very powerful. A Map of Home is addictive reading.”

WABE’s Between the Lines: “A funny debut novel…about a rambunctious young girl and her eccentric family.”

Globe & Mail: “Randa Jarrar has crafted a warm, ribald and insightful evocation of life in Kuwait, Egypt and the US.”

Booklist: “Ah, eccentric families. In Jarrar’s first novel, the lovable Ammars are talkative, argumentative, and so alive they practically burst off the page. … Jarrar is sophisticated and deft, and her impressive debut is especially intriguing considering her clever use of recent Middle East history.”

Alef:”[A Map of Home] sparkles with humour and intelligence. Nidali tenderly describes her rollicking family life, recounted with both a wicked sense of humour and seriousness. Nidali’s parents are larger-than-life characters. …This brilliant book is not one to overlook.”

Library Journal: “This wonderfully engaging work has vivid descriptions of the different places Nidali lives and the culture she grows up in…. Highly Recommended.”

La Repubblica: “A deep and tender book.”

Gioia Magazine, Italy: “You’ll learn the thin difference between cultural worlds that are similar and yet distinct, and how hard it is to build bridges between them, you’ll smile for the freshness of the feelings and you’ll fall in love with the grace of Nidali’s point of view.”

The Star-Ledger: “Jarrar has endowed her narrator with an ear attuned to every note of family farce… Nidali’s odyssey is as serious as it is comic and deeply moving. During the Bing Crosby-era, this tale of growing up absurd would have been compared to “Catcher in the Rye,” and deservedly so. It’s as achingly coming-of-age as it gets, as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking — like growing up.”

Ms. Magazine: “Jarrar’s debut novel is a narrative of otherness. … Despite exposure to so much turmoil and divisiveness, the teenager finds she is not unlike other American girls—much to her father’s dismay.”

Gay City News: “Jarrar’s youthful heroine makes the journey to these shores … and relates Arab-immigrant adolescence as never before.”

Daily Candy: “This debut coming-of-age novel from author Randa Jarrar is funny and fresh, tackling adolescent insecurities, nationalism, and a longing to fit in.”

Dallas Morning News: “A Map of Home promises to tell us about Arab culture as we never knew it. And using young Nidali as our guide, it does, giving us a multifaceted portrayal of the Arab world.”

The National: “Holden Caulfield’s narrative struggle is primarily to make sense of his individual place in the world. Nidali is more like Stephen Dedalus, the hero of James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in that she wants to use the power of art to make the world take shape around her. By the book’s end she is not so much enlightened as empowered.”

Foreword: “This novel is important in that it closes the gap between East and West at a time when the dominant stateside narrative is one of intrinsic difference. Rather than diffusing the “serious” issues, Jarrar divests them of some of their charge to reveal the human conflicts and connections at their root. This is the mark of good fiction.”

Chicago Tribune
: “Moving—and often quite funny—debut about a Muslim girl who is forced to flee Kuwait to Egypt, then on to Texas, where she must really come of age.”

The L Magazine: “Many of the incidents in the book are sweet, vivid or witty, and Jarrar’s descriptions of bustling Alexandria stand out especially, as does Nidali’s enlivening use of minor profanity. Boogers are wiped, crotches scratched and bidets put to use as auto-erotic aids.”

BuzzSugar: “Towelhead meets Persepolis… [t]he kind of story I’ve been hoping to find.”

Naomi Shihab Nye: “Jazzy, and vastly intelligent and fun. Jarrar is a wonderworker with delectable details and sweet swerves of surprise. …I turn to her for gusto.”

Porter Shreve
: “[Nidali’s] is a particularly complicated immigrant story, since she is continually arriving and adjusting only to depart, arrive, and adjust again. On her map of home, the borders are never fixed. …Funny, surprising, and fully alive.”

Leslie Marmon Silko: “Randa’s novel possesses perfect pitch. Her language is pure music and completely original. …  the characters are unique and alive, born storytellers and poets that fill the pages with fierce beauty and a passionate sense of community that spans continents and generations.”

Elizabeth Kostova: [Jarrar] is a born storyteller…stories pour from her fingers, and yet she’s also managed to organize them into a vivid arc. … I think of myself as a fairly hard-bitten reader, but I laughed aloud several times at her narrator’s comments on life and family. I fought a few tears, as well.”