Inheritance of Exile, The
Stories from South Philly
- Published: April 2007
- ISBN: 9780268162276
In The Inheritance of Exile, Susan Muaddi Darraj expertly weaves a tapestry of the events and struggles in the lives of four Arab-American women. Hanan, Nadia, Reema, and Aliyah search for a meaningful sense of home, caught in the cultural gap that exists between the Middle East and the United States.
Daughters of Palestinian immigrants who have settled into the diverse southern section of Philadelphia, the four friends live among Vietnamese, Italians, Irish, and other ethnic groups. Each struggles to reconcile her Arab identity with her American one. Muaddi Darraj adds the perspectives of the girls’ mothers, presented in separate stories, which illuminate the often troubled relationship between first and second generations of immigrants.
Her suite of finely detailed portraits of arresting characters, told in evocative, vivid language, is sure to intrigue those seeking enjoyment and insight.
“Darraj succeeds admirably in suggesting the diversity of Palestinian-Americans: the four friends Nadia, Aliyah, Hanan and Reema each comes from a family with its own story of exile. . . . There’s a passionate sense here of inheritance as a two-way street that transforms immigrants and their children. . . .” —Publishers Weekly
“The interlinked stories in The Inheritance of Exile meditate on [the] dangers of assumption, tracing the lives of four Palestinian women and their American-born daughters in a South Philly neighborhood. Muaddi Darraj rejects literary pyrotechnics and surface razzle-dazzle in favor of a fresh clarity that exposes her characters’ contradictions. Although tinged by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she sidesteps politics to portray the daily struggles of ordinary life—immigrants attempting to maintain a fragile equilibrium between their heritage and their adopted homeland, mothers and daughters struggling to accept and love one another for who they are—with a touch as delicate as the coffee cup on its cover.” —The Urbanite Magazine
“Though many readers have responded to the political identity of her characters (who are mostly Palestinian Christian), Darraj says that “these [are] Arab-American women looking for their identities, but they're also looking at how other immigrants deal with cultural clashes. I think that any kind of ethnic community that has specific traditions and values-that tries to relate to American society-can relate to these stories.” —Philadelphia City Paper
“What makes Susan Muaddi Darraj's collection of short stories so rewarding—in ways that a novel cannot be—is that this book is a collection not only of short stories but also of perspectives, of parts that accumulate into a whole.” —Potomac Review
“A recent addition to the growing collection of Arab American literature is Susan Muaddi Darraj's The Inheritance of Exile. Set in South Philadelphia, the book is a set of interconnected stories about four young Arab-American women who are born to Palestinian immigrants.” —The Oman Observer
“It's really a book about two generations of women. Each story focuses on a different woman, but they are all linked together. It reads like a novel. If you think of Amy Tan and The Joy Luck Club, it's a similar structure.” —South Philly Review
“Susan Muaddi Darraj's book presents a series of interwoven stories about four young women of Palestinian origin who grow up together in an immigrant working-class neighborhood in South Philadelphia. The Inheritance of Exile is a welcome addition to the growing body of work by Arab-American writers whose stories are beginning to forge a space for the expression of Arab-American experience within the cultural and literary landscape of the United States.” —AlJadid
“Laced together in the style of the modern classic A Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, The Inheritance of Exile is a layered and addictive work that captures the pressures, attitudes and even recipes of the Arab-American community.” —Saudi Aramco World
“The Inheritance of Exile is a remarkably engaging collection. With this effort, Muaddi Darraj announces her presence as a major voice in the genre of fiction. The collection sparkles with a lively sense of place, conflict, and description. So often, and so vividly, I felt as if I was reading the cultural items from my own memory.” —Steven Salaita, author of Arab American Literary Fictions, Cultures, and Politics
“These dazzling stories of four Palestinian-American women and their families give us a rare portrait of the life of exiles in America. Susan Muaddi Darraj writes with care and intelligence, and her compassion for her flawed and complex characters reminds us of our own humanity.” —Laila Lalami, author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits