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In her first story collection, Jarrar employs a particular, rather than rhetorical approach to race and gender. Thus we have "How Can I Be of Use to You," with its complicated relationship between a distinguished Egyptian feminist and her young intern, demonstrating that gender politics are never straightforward, and both generationsold and newtake advantage of each other. There's also a healthy dose of magic surrealism, as in the wild and witty story "Zelda the Halfie" which follows a breed of half Ibexes/half humans and their various tribulations. The writing is peppered with gorgeous imagery: a moon reflected in an ice cream scoop, breath that runs ahead of its body, and two apartments in a high rise whose tenants precisely mirror each other.
Randa Jarrar is the author of a highly successful novel, A Map of Home, which received an Arab-American Book Award and was named one of the best novels of 2008 by theBarnes & Noble Review. She grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, and moved to the United States after the first Gulf War. Her work has appeared in theNew York Times Magazine, the Utne Reader, Salon.com, Guernica, theRumpus, the Oxford American, Ploughshares, and more. She blogs for Salon, and lives in California.