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Rajia Hassib Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

In the Language of Miracles (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Pure Heart (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Rajia Hassib

Rajia Hassib was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt, and when she was twenty-three years old she moved to the United States. She has an MA in creative writing that she got from Marshall University.

Ten years after she came to America she went back to college in order to study English Literature and Writing in order to pursue her life-long goal of becoming a writer.

After she graduated, she worked for a short time as a part-time instructor of English at Marshall, and taught an introduction to Creative Writing and a class on Postcolonial Literature.

Seeing as how she came to America a bit before the September 11 attacks, and struggled for years with the guilt and shame of the fact that her religion was used in justifying an extremely barbaric act. She wanted Muslims to do something to prove to the rest of the world their religion is not the violent one extremists suggest that it is. But she would later find how impossibly complex any ideas or attempts redemption is.

She wound up becoming preoccupied with the notion of a public act of apology for a crime one did not commit. So she created a microcosm for the September 11 attacks and use it to examine exactly what it really feels like to be an American Muslim post 9/11.

After that, she came up with the idea of a novel about a family whose oldest child commits a crime and flees his parents and his siblings that are burdened with all of the consequences. Tackling it this way seemed ideal to her. She was freed from having to address all of the political aspects of the attacks and was allowed the chance to focus on the aftermath on a personal level, which is part she wanted to explore to begin with.

Hassib was also allowed the freedom to investigate other themes she was interested in, like: family dynamics, challenges of immigration, cultural conditioning, and gender expectations.

“In the Language of Miracles” was an honorable mention from the Arab American Book Awards and was one of New York Times Editors’ Choice selections.

Hassib’s short fiction has appeared in publications such as: Bone Parade, Steam Ticket, Upstreet, and Border Crossing magazines.

Her debut was released in the year 2015, and was called “In the Language of Miracles”.

“In the Language of Miracles” is the first stand alone novel, which was released in the year 2015. Nagla and Samir Al-Menshawy seem to have attained the American dream. After they immigrated from Egypt to the United States, Samir works successfully through residency and starts his own medical practice. This is while Nagla tens to Hasaam, their firstborn, in their tiny apartment.

Quickly the still growing family moves into a larger house in Summerset, a manicured New Jersey suburb, where their three kids later go to school with the daughter of their best friends and neighbors, Natalie Bradstreet. Over ten years later, the family’s apparently stable life gets suddenly upended when a tragic turn of events leaves both Natalie and Hasaam dead and makes the Al-Menshawys into outcasts in their own town.

The story is told one year after their deaths, and follows the Al-Menshawy family for the five days leading to the memorial service that the Bradstreets have put together in order to mark the one year anniversary of their daughter’s dying. Nagla attempts to understand the role she played in the tragedy and Samir tries desperately to reconcile with the community. At the same time, Khaled, their sole surviving son, lives in the shadow of his troubled brother.

He struggles under his guilt and the pressure he feels about being the one good son, and turns to the city in hopes of trying to find happiness away from all of the painful memories that home conjures up for him. He is pulled back home repeatedly to Ehsan, his grandma, who comes from Egypt with prayers, incense, and a strong determination to keep her daughter’s family from unraveling. Ehsan provides for Khaled a real hope of salvation or the embodiment of all he has to flee if he will ever find himself.

Hassib delivers a finely wrought and sensitive debut novel that is sharply observant of immigrants’ intricate relationships to their new and adopted homelands. It is an exciting novel that announces the coming of a socially and psychologically astute new author.

“A Pure Heart” is the second stand alone novel, which was released in the year 2019. Gameela and Rose Gubran, two sisters, could not be more different from each other. Gameela is a devout Muslim since she was a teenager, and stayed in Cairo. Her sister Rose, is an Egyptologist, and married an American journalist and they moved to New York City, and she works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In the aftermath of Egypt’s revolution, Gameela gets killed in a suicide bombing. Rose goes back to Egypt after the bombing, and sifts through some of the artifacts that Gameela left behind, trying to understand just how her sister could have died and who she really was. Quickly, Rose learns that Gameela has left quite a few unanswered questions behind. Who was she romantically involved with? Why did she quit her job months before she died and didn’t tell her family? How did Gameela, a religious woman, keep so many secrets?

Rose struggles to reconcile her identities as a new American and an Egyptian, she looks into Gameela’s devotion to her country and religion. The more Rose finds out about her sister’s life, the more she has to reconcile their fates, who should and shouldn’t be held responsible for her death, and their bond as sisters.

Hassib strongly articulates the full-bodied chorus of all of Egypt’s voices. It wrestles with some heavy themes: religion, survivor’s guilt, revolution, and family and does so without resorting to glib platitudes or moralizes when talking about topics that many avoid. This all makes her book better for it. This is an exquisite tale and anchoring it is a pair of Cairo-born sisters whose fates both spin radically in their own directions during the wake of the Egyptian revolution. Hassib has penned a lovely book that does a great job of bringing troubling realities to life and light.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Rajia Hassib

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