Love is an Ex-Country

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Pub Date 2 Feb 2021 | Archive Date 2 Feb 2021

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Description

Queer. Muslim. Arab American. A proudly Fat woman.  Randa Jarrar is all these things. In this  provocative memoir she explores how to claim joy in an unravelling and hostile world.

Queer. Muslim. Arab American. A proudly Fat woman.  Randa Jarrar is all these things. In this  provocative memoir she explores how to claim joy in an unravelling and hostile world.


Advance Praise

‘One of the finest writers of her generation.’

—LAILA LALAMI, author of The Other Americans

‘If you have ever felt lonely or horny or angry or magnificent

this memoir is for you. What a boon it is, a perfect,

unforgettable howl of a book.’

—CARMEN MARIA MACHADO, author of In the Dream House

‘Randa Jarrar is the Arab femme daddy of my dreams and her voice

is nothing short of ROYAL. That’s the type of literary, diasporic,

and necessary realness Randa serves.’

—MYRIAM GURBA, author of Mean

‘There wasn’t a page in this memoir that didn’t make me want to

jump up and cheer, murmur in awe, scream with laughter, or weep.

Randa Jarrar is exactly the kind of role model we need right now.’

—MELISSA FEBOS, author of Abandon Me

‘One of the finest writers of her generation.’

—LAILA LALAMI, author of The Other Americans

‘If you have ever felt lonely or horny or angry or magnificent

this memoir is for you. What a boon it...


Marketing Plan

Major campaigns planned in both UK and US for simultaneous publication.

Major campaigns planned in both UK and US for simultaneous publication.


Available Editions

EDITION Hardcover
ISBN 9781913207427
PRICE £14.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 32 members


Featured Reviews

This is a hugely important memoir, from an author with a vivid and vital voice. Randa Jarrar's story is at once intensely relatable and fiercely educational. I have never experienced domestic abuse, racism, or immigration, but found the sections regarding bodies and sexuality heart-wrenchingly close to home. And the experiences I cannot specifically relate to I can only assume are related just as authentically, they certainly read as such. The structure of loosely following a road trip whilst bringing in memories and themes took me a little while to get used to, but in the end makes the memoir feel more conversational, and brings the narrative voice entirely to life. I did have to flip back and forth a bit to connect characters together, perhaps made slightly harder by the use of initials rather than names, but this didn't detract from the reading experience. It felt a privilege to read this, and I would recommend it to any adult person. I will be adding this review to my instagram shortly: @ashcarterbookcase

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Bold and unapologetic - complete “no f**ks given” vibes from the author which I thought was so refreshing. It did take a while to adjust to what initially felt like broken/scattergun storytelling. It later felt quite fitting given her story and eventually the intentional break off from a natural flow made a lot of sense to me. I truly wish I had it in me to school racists/narrow-minded folk the way the author has done in her life! Full review post here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CI6aV5AAW6f/?igshid=dey3hh15n22o

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America is an amnesiac. As I was reading Randa Jarrar’s Love Is An Ex-Country, a friend was texting me to tell me that I needed to watch the news. Something was happening in the USA, and it was big. So, dutifully, I put the book down and switched on the TV to watch those mobs on Capitol Hill. I’ve been avoiding the televised news a lot lately; it doesn’t do me any good to watch the same things being picked over for hours. I read an article and then I’m done. But watching people break into a place of democracy, carrying Confederate flags as though it’s 1865, I thought about Randa Jarrar and her story of finding Confederate flags in a gas station and being given them for free, because the clerk knew that she would go and set them on fire. Somehow, it seemed important for once that I should be watching and witnessing, just as Jarrar knew it was important that she take action too when handed those symbols of hate. That is the power of Love Is An Ex-Country, with its razor sharp writing. Love Is An Ex-Country is on the surface an unfiltered, raw and honest travelogue memoir; the story of Jarrar’s drive across the USA, sometimes rather meanderingly interspersed with stories and essays about what it means to be a queer, Arab American, Muslim, Fat woman in the USA as it exists now. And how it used to be; there’s plenty about her childhood too. Jarrar has not – to make an understatement – had an easy time of it. Raised by traditional parents, with a father who would beat her, then married to an abuser, these are only a few of the struggles Jarrar has faced. She did not truly believe that she owned her own body until she gave birth to her son during a botched C-section. It always belonged to someone else. The quote at the top of this review comes from the chapter which discusses the fallout that Jarrar suffered after she tweeted about Barbara Bush following the former First Lady’s death. She discusses it very frankly, in a lot of detail and she does not apologise. I personally don’t believe that she has any reason to, and I’m glad to see that this controversial event hasn’t been glossed over in any way. Just as Jarrar owns the abuse she suffered, she owns this event too. Her critics, were they ever to read this book, would absolutely hate it. It isn’t just the USA which has broken her heart either. Jarrar, Palestinian on her father’s side, recounts a trip she took to Israel in an attempt to visit her sister. She is an American citizen by birth, and was equipped with the names of many people she could say she was visiting in Israel. But she never made it out of the airport; after hours and hours, she was put back on a flight to the USA, denied entry for the crime of being half Palestinian. This was the story most alien to me. I, of course, will likely never be denied entry to a country based on my nationality or my religion. I picked over the bones of it for a long time, appalled that this is really happening right now, and no one seems to care. But if Love Is An Ex-Country leaves its readers with one message, it isn’t the one you were expecting. There is fight there, and the will to stand up and argue for yourself, and the idea of living unapologetically. Chapters frankly discussing Jarrar’s queer lifestyle, and her discovery of kink, will be too much for some people, although I’d argue they are just as necessary in outlining how she came to have ownership over herself as the story of her son’s birth was. But also, through a long-running thread in which Jarrar narrates her relationship with her father, we come to realise that there is a powerful plea for forgiveness and reconciliation too. This can, of course, be extended out to include reconciliation with oneself, and also even further to include society. In such a howl of rage as this memoir is, it is telling that Jarrar does not fail to mention small moments of love and positive action, such as the story of the dairy farmer who put up his property as collateral to pay for the bail of Angela Davis in 1970. They’re tiny, but crucial. Jarrar is, above all else, preaching love – for your body, your sense of self, your country, your people. There is no hate in this book.

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"America is an amnesiac. To be a woman in America, a mother, and a descendent of North Africans and West Asians is to be the opposite of an amnesiac. It is to be reminded in your bones, your muscles, and the twisted strands of your DNA, every moment of every day, of war, of fear, of expulsion, of discrimination, and of others’ fear, dehumanization, and murder, of you and of people like you." • This book is a whirlwind of events peppered with moments of deep introspection and reflection. Jarrar is at times funny and at times simply real. Her prose is both beautiful and sharp. In one of the chapters, she mentions someone sheherazading her and I sort of felt like she was doing the same. Each chapter of her road trip reads almost like a photograph of her life at that moment. She does not spare anyone. From immigration to racism and sexuality, she bares it all in the most vivid way. • I would say this book is quite provocative to my greatest delight, however, it is not for the faint of heart, nor the squeamish. You have to brace for it. It is vivid, vibrant and oh so powerful. She is unapologetically bold and shocking. You will love her for it. • ~ #fridayinaprilbookreviews • I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to @netgalley and @sandstonepress for this eARC.

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I liked this a lot. It's somewhat frenetic in pace and structure, and can be jarring for this reason, but it worked for me as a stylistic representation both of zipping around the globe, and of the broad range of content addressed. Jarrar's trauma is viscerally present as a fat queer Arab American Muslim woman throughout, and it is expressed in anger, grief, fear, pride, love, and resilience. One thing I particularly loved was how freely her sexuality is expressed throughout the memoir - my experience of memoirs is that unless they are specifically addressing the writer's sexuality, the subject tends to be elided completely, whereas here it is simply one facet of a rich and complicated life. The writing is strong, and Jarrar's confidence across a variety of media platforms really comes across. I will definitely be reading more from this author. Thanks to Sandstone Press and NetGalley for the ARC.

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REVIEW: Love is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar Described as a memoir of a gay Muslim Arab-American I am not sure I was entirely prepared for the stories about to unfold in Jarrar’s book. This is bold, truly shocking and at times alarming. There is absolutely no filter applied on this book and it provided quite an internal dilemma. I was scared to keep reading but I also categorically could not stop reading. There were some parts I had to read with my hand over my eyes. It covers some difficult time periods of her life; physical and emotional abuse, racism, exploration of sexuality and her experiences of being American, Palestinian and neither. The most interesting chapter covered a trip back to visit her sister in Palestine. I feel this book was an experience and I am conflicted in my overall thoughts, it’s lack of linearity at first confused me but at parts it felt poetic, the honesty of it both captivated and scared me. One thing I am certain of it is a book that will encourage discussion. Out on 2nd February 2021 thank you for this copy @netgalley and @sandstonepress

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‘To be Arab in America is to be a mouse unwittingly dunked into a paint pot of invisibility ink’ Love is an Ex-Country by Randa Jarrar is the memoir I live for – incisive, raw, emotionally compelling, embracing vulnerability as a great strength. Being Palestinian American, muslim and queer, Jarrar has a lot to tell about navigating different identities. Having a loose structure based on a travel story, the book, spanning back and forth, addresses a myriad of problems Jarrar had to deal with: abuse, racism, discrimination against obesity. The chosen way to approach these different terrains is to write them in vignettes, spicing it up with some glimpses of humor. This is the reason for which the book might appear a bit incoherent and loafing, but is it easy to talk about harrowing experiences in a linear way? I applaud Jarrar for telling her story her own way. She has an undeniable way with words.

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About a third of the way through this book I thought I'd be describing it as disjointed or directionless. Now having finished it, my opinion has shifted more towards it being meandering and non-linear. It's both a memoir and collection of essays, not quite taking you through life as it happened but instead reflecting a life through certain themes. Randa Jarrar has much to say on an interwoven range of topics: bodies, nationality, sex, parenthood, abuse, religion, race, sexuality. She speaks on each of these with the confidence of deep lived experience which makes a voice like hers so important. I'm reminded of the description that came with the book "Queer. Muslim. Arab American. A proudly Fat woman. Randa Jarrar is all these things." The intersection of all these things is highlighted at almost every moment across the book, at times allowing me to sit with a deep discomfort as perhaps a book like this should. The writing is strong. Jarrar certainly doesn't shy away from any of the more delicate concepts she writes about and is upfront about her own experiences. I read it over the course of a day and found it hard to put down. Even though each section is a distinct essay, each one flows easily into the next in a way that makes it tricky to stop reading. All that said, some of the essays were stronger than others and my understanding of this collection definitely came from it as an entire piece at the end. The overall ideas come out a little stronger than some of the specific stories Jarrar tells. Overall this comes out at about 3.5 stars, definitely worth a read. Review also posted on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3799995760. Amazon review to come when the book is eligible.

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Where do I begin? I usually rush to write down my review after finishing the books, but with Jarrar's memoir 'Love is an Ex-Country', I needed time to 'digest' her outpour of words, thoughts & feelings, which I still revisit mentally from time to time. Brilliant, bold, sharp writing that touches upon racism (and passing), Islamophobia, fatphobia, domestic abuse, relationships, sexism, sex & kink, all intrinsically linked with each other. A personal catharsis on so many levels, as many of the identities of the writer, who describes herself as queer, Muslim, Arab American and a proudly fat woman. The cross-country road trip motif gets a bit lost along the way as the book evolves into a trip down memory lane, with the writer digging as deep as possible and drawing with as much detail as possible of how her past defined Jarrar's understanding of her self. A lot of readers suggest that the fragmented and somewhat chaotic writing style put them off and/or made them feel that this book did not click with them. Considering that the book was meant to be 'meandering' and disorienting on purpose, its structure and flow adds to the journey through the author's experiences, and highlights how jarring was her experience as a refugee and survivor of assault throughout her life. It only goes to show how reconciling with the past, emancipating ourselves from the expectations & identities others prescribe to us, and finding some form of peace and freedom is never a linear path. Very insightful & very thought-provoking read - I learned a lot.

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Reading the description beforehand, ‘Love is an Ex-Country’ directly appealed to me and my love of stories from the borders of society; the first line of the press release stating ‘Queer. Muslim. Arab American. A proudly fat woman. Randa Jarrar is all of these things.’ After racing through this powerful memoir, I can confirm it certainly met my expectations. Randa speaks with such confidence and passion of topics such as race, sexuality and parenthood, wrapped around a road trip. It’s bold and vivid, and found this a very interesting read Thanks to Netgallery and Sandstone Press for the chance to review this advance copy in exchange for an honest review. ‘Love is an Ex-Country’ is released on February 2nd, written by Randa Jarrar.

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Love is an Ex-Country is a stunningly bold, no holds barred and brutally honest memoir from a queer, Muslim who is also a big, beautiful brown woman and her autobiography explores the intersectionality and overlapping nature of race, sexuality, religion, gender, identity, trauma, abuse and female personification. She explores these throughout the cross-country road trip and sweeping adventure she embarked on in 2016 from California through to her parents home state of Connecticut as well as soaking up the cultural treats each place along her route had to offer. It's an unforgettably raw and relatable read comprised of multiple authoritative essays on a rich array of topical issues: including police brutality, systemic racism, the discrimination still present in America and many other finely tuned, straight-talking and provocative pieces. I loved how original it was and Jarrar’s voice forces us to take a long hard look and evaluate the issues that impact us every day. She talks openly and empoweringly about self-love and accepting ourselves as we are which is a strong, inspiring message and is told in a refreshingly original, no f*cks given fashion. A set of beautifully portrayed vignettes with such wonderfully uplifting and often humourous messages that are balanced out by the trauma and hardship suffered, Jarrar examines queerness, kink, race, domestic violence, and love through the lens of the body, as well as how to claim joy in an unravelling and hostile world. Her most important pieces remind you to love your authentic self and not to let anyone change you, and I found her words powerful and incisive with a profound sense of realness that is missing from many similar books. Highly recommended to those who have always struggled to fit in, to be heard and to conform to societies standards or to love themselves. Let this book show you that regardless of the way you look, your sexuality, your past traumas and how you identify, you are as entitled as anyone else to love and accept yourself and to treat yourself with the kindness you deserve. It's funny and fierce and above all reminds you that the joy and the pain we have each been through makes us the beautiful person we are today. Unapologetically and without mincing her words, Jarrar takes you on the journey of her lifetime where she reflects on both her identity and her past. Highly recommended.

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This was an anecdote-filled road trip across America full of observations and anecdotes about the way Arabs are perceived in America as well as A variety of other ethnic minority groups. Jamar, our narrator has astute observations about the way Americans perceive a multitude of things exactly the way the are manipulated to. Through the course of this trip we explore the author"s life and how she became the person that she is today fir better or worse and her battles with prejudice both racial and sexuality-based. A particular highlight is how she intersperses real life news stories and landmarks with her reflections. Thanks netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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This was a beautiful read and whilst i hoped for something a bit more fully fleshed, I appreciated the style of writing and vulnerability between its pages.

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Based on the blurb, I went into this book expecting an ‘American road trip’ book. It turned out to be not quite what I expected! This is less a travelogue than a meandering trip through Jarrar’s life, prompted occasionally by the author’s drive across America. That is not to say we do not go on a journey! Indeed, we follow the author through a childhood overshadowed by her overbearing, violent, father, and the ‘escape’ to a boyfriend who turns out to be worse. We glimpse the hardship of being half-Palestinian in America (Jarrar can pass for white, which leads to an encounter in a rest stop bathroom where a racist white woman waits for an obviously non-white family to leave before turning to Jarrar, expecting Jarrar to join her in her disgust. Needless to say, she does not get what she wants). The book does shy away from controversy, and is frank in its depictions of abuse and trauma, as well as the author’s discovery of her own sexual appetites – including her discovery of kinky sex. ‘Love Is an Ex-Country’ may not be a conventional road trip, but it takes on Jarrar’s journey from trauma to something like acceptance and then Jarrar’s love of self – a fat, queer, Arab American who is unabashed about her desires, and gloriously unapologetic about any part of herself.

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I was given access to an eARC of this book through NetGallety in exchange for an honest review. Love is an Ex-Country is a poignant memoir about Randa Jarrar's life and experiences as a fat, queer, Muslim Arab-American woman. She discusses childhood, marriage, sex, motherhood, her Muslim identity, kink, her white-passing privilege, and much more on a personal level; she also weaves in facts about, for instance, the occupation of Palestine and how that affects her as a Palestinian. This memoir is not always easy or comfortable to read, with explicit depictions of e.g. domestic abuse and sexual assault, but if you are able to read about these topics it is worth it. There is a strong theme of travel throughout the book - with journeys around the USA with her dog as well as to multiple other countries - but I would not call it a travelogue, which seems to have caused some confusion for other viewers. I personally prefer memoirs-with-travel rather than travel-with-memories, so this did not bother me. If you would like a taste of the style of this memoir, many of the chapters have previously been published as essays in various magazines. Randa has also written fiction, which I will definitely be looking into and reading in the future. Content warnings: child abuse (physical, emotional, and possibly sexual); domestic abuse (physical, emotional, sexual); forced pregnancy; body shaming/fatphobia; disordered eating & dieting; racism (including Islamophobia and colourism); alcohol use; drug use; explicit sexual content; sexual violence; sexual assault.

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