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Love Is an Ex-Country (Hardcover)

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Queer. Muslim. Arab American. A proudly Fat woman. Randa Jarrar is all of these things. In this "viscerally elegant" and "intimately edgy" memoir of a cross-country road trip, she explores how to claim joy in an unraveling and hostile America (Kirkus Reviews).

Randa Jarrar is a fearless voice of dissent who has been called "politically incorrect" (Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times). As an American raised for a time in Egypt, and finding herself captivated by the story of a celebrated Egyptian belly dancer's journey across the United States in the 1940s, she sets off from her home in California to her parents' in Connecticut.

Coloring this road trip are journeys abroad and recollections of a life lived with daring. Reclaiming her autonomy after a life of survival--domestic assault as a child, and later, as a wife; threats and doxxing after her viral tweet about Barbara Bush--Jarrar offers a bold look at domestic violence, single motherhood, and sexuality through the lens of the punished-yet-triumphant body. On the way, she schools a rest-stop racist, destroys Confederate flags in the desert, and visits the Chicago neighborhood where her immigrant parents first lived.

Hailed as "one of the finest writers of her generation" (Laila Lalami), Jarrar delivers a euphoric and critical, funny and profound memoir that will speak to anyone who has felt erased, asserting: I am here. I am joyful.

About the Author


Randa Jarrar is the author of the novel A Map of Home and the collection of stories Him, Me, Muhammad Ali. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Salon, Bitch, BuzzFeed, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a Creative Capital Award and an American Book Award, as well as awards and fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, Hedgebrook, PEN, and others. A professor of creative writing and a performer, Jarrar lives in Los Angeles.

Praise For…


An O, The Oprah Magazine LGBTQ Book That Will Change the Literary Landscape Next Year 
A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of the Year
One of The AU Review's Most Anticipated Books of the Year
Write or Die Tribe Most Anticipated Book of the Year
A Rumpus Most Anticipated Book of Next Year

"Through the lens of a transformative cross-country road trip from California to Connecticut, Jarrar recounts her lifelong hunger for liberation from the forces of domestic violence, doxxing, and systemic racism . . . This visceral, unforgettable memoir is Jarrar’s barbaric yawp, asserting her triumphant choice to live joyfully in a hostile world." —Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire, A Best Book of the Year

"Funny, fierce, and full of joy and pain, Randa Jarrar's memoir chronicles her 2016 road trip across America, as she drives from her home in California to her parents' home in Connecticut. Her encounters along the way—from Tinder hookups to encounters with racist truck-drivers—serve as catalysts for Jarrar to explore everything from her identity as a queer Palestinian-American to her experiences with domestic violence and bigotry. There is catharsis in reading Jarrar's words, they feel alternately like howls and whispers, an impassioned, necessary response to what it means to live in America today." ––Kristin Iversen, Refinery29, One of the Best New Books of the Year

"Egyptian, Palestinian, and American writer Randa Jarrar’s memoir is framed through the story of a road trip she took ahead of the 2016 election, inspired by Egyptian dancer and actress Tahia Carioca. Hers is at once an American story and the story of the Palestinian diaspora. Jarrar writes about heavy topics—domestic assault, detainment in Israel, doxxing, and more—yet her writing remains infused with joy and survival." ––Alma, A Favorite Book for Winter

"Jarrar’s story is nothing short of inspirational. She proves that in spite of life’s challenges, she’s a force to be reckoned with. Though life has thrown many obstacles her way, she’s always managed to overcome them, has always come out dancing to the beat of her own drum." —Maria Chance, Paperback Paris

"Simultaneously a dirge and an encomium. A survivor of both domestic abuse and doxxing, Jarrar’s book is not a simplistic paeon to an imaginary America, but nor does it entirely stop searching for the possibility of some sort of better, hidden country." ––The Millions, One of the Most Anticipated Books of the Year

"Compelling . . . viscerally elegant . . . Jarrar makes a significant statement about self-acceptance while celebrating the complexity of intersecting identities. An intimately edgy text." —Kirkus Reviews

"Cutting and triumphant . . . Jarrar [is a] fierce, merciless thinker and writer . . . The memoir itself traverses the globe from Texas to Connecticut to the Middle East to Berlin, with Jarrar’s grit and intelligence leaping off every page. The entire book is a symphony for the pushed-out and the unheard." —Booklist
Product Details
ISBN: 9781948226585
ISBN-10: 1948226588
Publisher: Catapult
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2021
Pages: 240