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Diana Abu-Jaber: Further Reading After “The Oracle”

June 3, 2011

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What to read after Diana Abu-Jaber’s tale of a conflicted fat kid.

By **Diana Abu-Jaber**

abu_jaber_author-100.jpgI’m interested in the possibilities and limits of narrative voice these days, especially concerning authors that are able to extend voice-driven stories beyond the traditional confines of short pieces. The following titles are each very different sorts of works, but each has a powerfully unique voice driving its story line.

Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton:

This “food memoir” was written by a professional chef and her narrative voice is unflinching, bold, even defiant at times. I love her ruthless honesty in all things—especially when examining her own motives and her powerful drive to create a rich life of artistic expression. If you enjoy this book, I’d also recommend Kitchen Confidential and Tender at the Bone.

Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart:

A frantic, satirical, dystopian tale that recalled Humbert Humbert’s withering intelligence and descriptive narrative waterfalls. There is wordplay and texting and imaginative, despairing visions of the future, all intertwined with a torturous, anti-love-love story. If you enjoy this one, you might also like Lolita.

Emma by Jane Austen:

This is a genteel comedy of manners but it’s also a fascinating study of character motivation. There’s a continuous tension between the narrative voice and Emma’s own thought process. She’s coddled, precious, and overbearing, and the narrator allows—in the softest possible tones—the protagonist to expose and humiliate herself. If you like Emma, I think you’ll also like Jane Eyre.


Copyright 2011 Diana Abu-Jaber

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  Patricia Sarrafian Ward: East Beirut, 1978: “Self,” she queried, “should we just kill him and be done?” She smoked, exhaling through her nose like a dragon. More
 
  Laila Halaby: The Bastard of Salinas: “Better to believe that you come from two happy parents.” More
     
  Youmna Chlala: Secret Boyfriend: The year we went to the Camps, my sister Leila was eighteen years old and had just begun her secret affair with Sammy. More
 
  Alia Yunis: Girls on Ice: I was in the bathroom stall at the Armenian chicken place in Anaheim when I overheard Sarah say to her even more annoying friend Abeer at the mirror, where they were both putting on gobs of makeup, “I’m just going to kill myself, habibti, if I don’t make the triple axel at the championships next month.” More

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