Randa Jarrar has been making up stories since she was a little girl.Once she hit adolescence, she realized that in order to push her strict parents’ limits, she needed to develop better excuses to write—and better plotlines.And yet supposedly “our greatest American novelist” can’t even imagine creating an other character because he’s never been in love with a Black woman.
Then there is Muhammad Ali, the fighter, who was just amazing and never apologetic about being Muslim. I also really like that it’s about him, the father, me, the female narrator, and Muhammad Ali—spoiler—the mother in the story.
So it’s about the creative and the self and all of those connections: colonialism, national and civil rights movements, feminist movements, the agency of a girl child, being stuck between him and Muhammad Ali, between two strong and difficult forces. It partly comes from my journey of trying to find a way out of a restrictive family of origin without throwing it all away.
Her novel , which comes out next month, is a collection of short stories about sets of women: friends, lovers, mothers, and daughters.
She shows their connections and differences by leaving no topic unexplored—class, language, and sexuality are all at the core of the book.
If you stand at the edge of anywhere you can see all the way to the center and then to the other side, so it’s the best place for a character to be.