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Behind You Is the Sea: A Novel

SKU: Book_behind you is the sea

Behind You Is the Sea: A Novel

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Behind You Is the Sea: A Novel

“Behind You Is the Sea fearlessly confronts stereotypes about Palestinian culture, weaving a remarkable portrait of life's intricate moments, from joyous weddings to heart-wrenching funerals, from shattered hearts to hidden truths—I wept and grew alongside this family. This is a story that challenges perceptions, offering a heartfelt glimpse into the interior lives of those who call this community home. A must read novel with unforgettable characters and an unwavering, fresh voice—I couldn’t put it down until the very last page! Darraj delivers an instant, necessary, and authentic classic to the cannon of Arab-American literature.”—Etaf Rum, author of Evil Eye and A Woman Is No Man

An exciting debut novel that gives voice to the diverse residents of a Palestinian American community in Baltimore—from young activists in conflict with their traditional parents to the poor who clean for the rich—lives which intersect across divides of class, generation, and religion.

Funny and touching, Behind You Is the Sea brings us into the homes and lives of three main families—the Baladis, the Salamehs, and the Ammars—Palestinian immigrants who’ve all found a different welcome in America.

Their various fates and struggles cause their community dynamic to sizzle and sometimes explode: The wealthy Ammar family employs young Maysoon Baladi, whose own family struggles financially, to clean up after their spoiled teenagers. Meanwhile, Marcus Salameh confronts his father in an effort to protect his younger sister for “dishonoring” their name. Only a trip to Palestine, where Marcus experiences an unexpected and dramatic transformation, can bridge this seemingly unbridgeable divide between the two generations.

Behind You Is the Sea faces stereotypes about Palestinian culture head-on and, shifting perspectives to weave a complex social fabric replete with weddings, funerals, broken hearts, and devastating secrets.

"We desperately need more books like this in which Palestinian people are presented as beautiful, richly complex human beings, not consigned to insulting, diminishing references. Gratitude to Susan Muaddi Darraj for her very necessary, beautiful work." — Naomi Shihab Nye, award-winning poet and author of The Turtle of Michigan

"Susan Muaddi Darraj's Behind You is the Sea is a powerful and moving novel about the lives of Palestinian immigrants. Told in rich, lush prose, this propulsive and beautiful novel will stay with me for a long time. I loved it." — Brandon Hobson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Removed

"In this episodic debut novel, Darraj portrays the joys, resentments, and yearnings of three generations of a tight-knit Palestinian American community. . . . Marvelous and moving." — Booklist (starred review)

"Their homeland casts a heavy shadow in this poignant novel about Baltimore’s Palestinian immigrant community. Taken from a famous saying by legendary commander Tariq ibn Zayid, the title of Darraj’s novel aptly describes the situation facing her ensemble cast, which finds itself trapped between Old World expectations and the challenges of life in America. . . . [Stories are] masterfully choreographed in a book in which each chapter reads like a small masterpiece. . . . A moving portrait of Palestinian families caught between the pressures of the Old World and the New." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


Publisher : HarperVia (January 16, 2024)
Language : English
Paperback : 256 pages
ISBN-13 : 978-0063324237


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