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Center for the Arts and Humanities Blog

Image courtesy of Mayra Sierra-Rivera '20, Studio art major

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Queer, Female and Palestinian: Stories of Love and Belonging

by Maggie Levantovskaya

Right now is a great time to get to know two Palestinian-American creative writers, Zaina Arafat and Randa Jarrar. Last year Zaina Arafat published a highly acclaimed debut novel, You Exist Too Much, which Roxane Gay praised for having a "deeply compelling protagonist." You Exist Too Much makes a powerful companion to Randa Jarrar's memoir, Love Is an Ex-Country, which is still warm off the press. Though one is fiction and the other creative non-fiction, both books tell stories of LGBTQIA+ Palestinian-American women who live in the fullness of struggle and joy. Each grapples with a history of abuse, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy and anti-Muslim as well as anti-Palestinian violence. Both authors craft gorgeous sentences and build worlds that feel lived in and profoundly shaped by sociohistorical contexts. Both authors show the possibility of belonging outside settler nation-states and in the pockets of communities, relationships and intimate encounters. If it's accessible to you, I recommend getting the audiobook version of Jarrar's Love Is an Ex-Country because it's one of the best-performed I've heard.

Love is an Ex-Country

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Maggie Levantovskaya is a Center for the Arts and Humanities fellow for the 2021/2022 year. She’s spending her summer fending off pandemic blues by hiking in Oakland, listening to audiobooks, and watching as many films on the Criterion channel as possible.

summer 2021 blog
Maggie Levantovskaya is a lecturer in the English Department and member of AFLOC, the Adjunct Faculty and Lecturer Organizing Committee at Santa Clara University. Her writing focuses on issues of chronic illness and disability, as well as adjunct working conditions. She also contributes literary criticism to the Los Angeles Review of Books.