The nomination is notable because the majority of Rakim’s lyrics relate to his identity as a Muslim, which has gone on to influence other contemporary Muslim rappers.
Susan Muaddi Darraj’s “Behind You Is the Sea” Is “An Instant Classic” to the Arab American Literary Cannon
Darraj’s debut “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."
“Behind You Is the Sea” is the upcoming debut novel from Palestinian American author Susan Muaddi Darraj. Darraj, who is known for her previous work in short fiction and children’s literature, has drummed up quite a bit of excitement for her first adult novel.
Etaf Rum, the New York Times bestselling author of “A Woman Is No Man” and “Evil Eye,” said in a glowing review that she couldn’t put “Behind You Is the Sea” down until the very last page. In her blurb, Rum said that Darraj’s debut, “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. Darraj delivers an instant, necessary and authentic classic to the cannon of Arab American literature.”
Find the book’s description below, via the publisher’s website:
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, shifting perspectives to weave a complex social fabric replete with weddings, funerals, broken hearts and devastating secrets.
Susan Muaddi Darraj is an award-winning writer of books for adults and children. She won an American Book Award, two Arab American Book Awards and a Maryland State Arts Council Independent Artists Award. In 2018, she was named a USA Artists Ford Fellow. Her books include her linked short story collection “A Curious Land,” which was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award, as well as the "Farah Rocks" children’s book series. She lives in Baltimore, where she teaches creative writing at Harford Community College and the Johns Hopkins University.
Preorder “Behind You Is the Sea” at the link below.