Book Group Toolbox #14: Modern Arab-American Fiction
Posted by: Kaite Stover
In the introduction to Modern Arab American Fiction: A Reader’s Guide, author Steven Salaita is happy to report that his first book, Arab American Literary Fictions, Cultures and Politics was outdated upon publication.
Salaita considers this lucky because it lead to the publication of Modern Arab American Fiction which allowed the author to explore the plethora of wonderful Arab-American novels being published and making the bestseller lists.
This book is a scholarly, yet accessible, work that looks at the place acclaimed authors such as Laila Halaby, Diana Abu-Jaber, and Alicia Erian hold in Arab-American fiction in particular and fiction in general.
Book group leaders looking for discussable novels about the Arab-American experience will find this book a useful tool for selecting titles. Salaita makes it very clear that he cannot, will not, provide a definition of what Arab-American literature. He notes that the more a reader reads Arab-American literature, the more apparent it becomes that the works are “wide ranging and diverse.” “Good literature is difficult to pigeonhole.”
The writing is lively and offers marvelous insights any facilitator would be glad to take to a book discussion. Chapter 7 will likely be the first one that readers turn to since it profiles book group favorite Diana Abu-Jabar. Jabar’s Birds of Paradise is a popular book group title published last year and going strong in this year.
Flip through this reader’s guide for other books that will may provide rich discussion in a group setting.