Alligator

Dima Alzayat. Two Dollar Radio, $15.99 trade paper (206p) ISBN 978-1-937512-89-7
Alzayat’s slim, powerful debut collection showcases the author’s deep empathy and imagination in stories about grief, assimilation, and trauma. She begins with the quietly explosive “Ghusl,” in which a young woman named Zaynab prepares the body of her younger brother, Hamoud, for burial. Though her movements are methodical as she progresses through the rites, her thoughts are erratic and all-consuming, bouncing from memories of herself and Hamoud as children to the political strife in their unnamed country that claimed first their father and then Hamoud. In “Only Those Who Struggle Succeed,” a young intern named Lina attempts to climb the corporate ladder of a film production company, only to find herself made vulnerable at every turn by her race, gender, and class. The title story takes as inspiration the true-life 1929 lynching of a Syrian man in Florida. With a mix of historical newspaper clippings, literary narrative, and imagined internet comments from white supremacists, Alzayat contextualizes the lynching with violence against the black community while tracing the imagined futures of the children of the lynched man, successfully using the trauma carried by refugees, immigrants, and their children as a through line in the history of violence in the U.S. This intelligent collection is a force to be reckoned with. (May)
Reviewed on : 01/23/2020
Release date: 05/29/2020
Genre: Fiction
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