In the Language of Miracles

A Novel

Rajia Hassib

PROLOGUE

When Khaled fell sick at age nine, his grandmother descended on his parents' house and promised him healing. Armed with incense, a thermos filled with holy water from the Zamzam Well in Mecca, and a frayed pocket-sized book of prayers, Ehsan arrived at Khaled's bedside ready to fight any and all misfortunes that might have befallen her favorite grandchild. His illness, she insisted, had to be the result of an evil eye, its malice aggravated by her daughter's negligence of the simplest methods of protection from such wickedness. "Not a single blue ornament on display in the entire house! And when was the last time you played a recording of the Qur'an in the kids' rooms? How do you expect to protect them?" she chastised her daughter again and again. Khaled, with his jet-black hair, green eyes, and that coy smile that always caused Ehsan to burst into a recitation of the sura of Al-Falaq to pray for his protection, was particularly vulnerable to the evil eye. His mother's insistence on throwing him an elaborate birthday party a few weeks earlier must have been the last straw. "Why parade the boy around? Why invite people's envy?" Ehsan would repeatedly mumble as she tended to the sick child. They might as well have injected him with bacteria and saved the money spent on the inflatables.

Khaled, aware of his favored status, had not thought it strange that Ehsan would travel from Egypt two months before she had originally intended, risking a flight into JFK on the heels of the blizzard that ushered in 1996, probably spending the ten-hour journey imagining her plane tumbling down in the middle of the unfamiliar snow she still feared beyond reason. On the day of her arrival she walked into Khaled's room, flanked by his parents and followed by his siblings, Hosaam and Fatima, and sat on the edge of his bed, the thermos held tightly in both hands. In a whisper that implied her words were meant only for his ears, Ehsan told Khaled the story of the holy water she had requested specifically for him, water her sister had carried all the way from Saudi Arabia to Egypt and that she in turn had carried from Egypt to the United States.

"This is blessed water," she said as she unscrewed the thermos lid and poured just enough to moisten a washcloth. "It is water that has run since the time of the prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon his soul. It is so pure it can heal the sick. If you were in the middle of the desert, one sip only would quench your thirst for days. This water," she continued as she put the thermos on his nightstand and held the white washcloth up for him to see, "runs out of the deep belly of the Arabian Desert, yet in this scorching heat it still comes out ice cold. This water will make you all better."

Khaled listened to her, struggling to make out the words, which she pronounced in an Arabic he found different from the one his parents used and yet familiar, since he had spent months out of each year in the company of his grandmother either at his home in Summerset, New Jersey, or at hers in Alexandria. Keeping his eyes on her lips helped him understand her better and also filled him with comfort; years later, he would still remember how unfamiliar his own room had felt, crowded as it was with his entire family. Hosaam's bed, the upper of the bunk beds, loomed heavily over Khaled's head the whole time, and throughout his feverish nights he would wake up imagining the bed was slowly lowering and eventually flattening him, and he wondered what his mother would do when she walked into his bedroom in the morning and found her son sandwiched between the two mattresses. Hosaam had not slept in his bed for days, having been banished to the living room both to protect him from potential infection and to give his brother some rest. Sitting on the edge of Khaled's bed, slowly dipping the washcloth in the small bowl now filled with Zamzam water, Ehsan's large body managed to make his bed seem more solid and less overcast i
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Beschreibung

“Assured and beautifully crafted. . . . Hassib is a natural, graceful writer with a keen eye for cultural difference. . . . [She] handles the anatomy of grief with great delicacy. . . . 
In the Language of Miracles should find a large and eager readership. For the beauty of the writing alone, Hassib deserves it.”

—Monica Ali, The New York Times Book Review

“This powerful and moving story wrestles with family, tradition, mental illness, grief, love, shame and the realities of being a Muslim in America post 9/11. . . . Hassib’s characters live and breathe with an honesty and vulnerability that makes them unforgettable.”

—The Herald-Dispatch

“A riveting and important book. It drives home the fact that no matter what religion we practice or country we are from, we are more alike than we think. [
In the Language of Miracles] narrows the gap between us and may make us a bit more tolerant, understanding, and accepting.”

—The Missourian

“Impressive. . . . From [Hassib’s] first page to her denouement we can be gripped and moved by a study of the fault-lines within an immigrant family.”

—The National

“Hassib writes with an authority uncommon in debut writers; in this important book, she weaves the beauty of Arabic culture with the harsh realities of modern American life with exceptional insight and poetic ease.”

—Bustle.com

“[A] sensitive, finely wrought debut . . . sharply observant of immigrants’ intricate relationships to their adopted homelands, this exciting novel announces the arrival of a psychologically and socially astute new writer.”

—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[A] stellar debut. . . . Thoughtfully examining the role of religion and prayer, parents and grandparents, this rich novel offers complex characters, beautiful writing, and astute observations about the similarities and differences between the Egyptian and American outlooks on life. It would be difficult to find a better book for any discussion group; highly recommended.”

—Library Journal (starred review)

“Topical both in its take on race relations and in its depiction of a trouble young man with ready access to firearms. . . . Hassib is a capable writer, especially when dealing with the interpersonal. Her natural use of language resembles that of Khaled Hosseini.”

—BookPage

“A family reckons with tragedy amid a storm of suspicion in Egyptian author Hassib’s debut novel. . . . [
In the Language of Miracles] offers fascinating insight into the lives of American Muslims, and the prejudice with which they contended in the years after 9/11.”

—Publishers Weekly

“[An] admirable debut . . . Hassib does fine work portraying a family divided by culturally and generationally divergent reactions to a harrowing situation, and the novel builds to a gratifying crescendo as the memorial nears and tensions rise.”

—Booklist

“Spoken words are all powerful in Rajia Hassib’s masterful book about thought vs. action.  Whether the characters are explaining, questioning, or stating their deepest beliefs, though, conversation never creates anything; it’s the human response to the life that subsumes us, whether we’re active or passive.  In the face of tragedy, and even great happiness, abstractions fall away; the personal and particular endure.  It’s a very moving book.”

—Ann Beattie

 

“Smart, nuanced and culturally dazzling, 
In the Language of Miracles is a heartrending story of Egyptians and Americans, of two families whose lives are intertwined and then unraveled by fate. Hassib’s writing has an intoxicating quality that made this a page-turner, but by the end, her beautiful story surpasses its characters in its unflinching investigation of tragedy, mental illness, and healing across two cultures in conflict.”

—Zoë Ferraris, author of Finding Nouf and City of Veils

“Rajia Hassib's
In the Language of Miracles is a tautly told story of one family’s grief and the quiet but daunting burden of survivorship. She has deftly captured their individual struggles as they swim through the deep waters of loss and blame. We turn page after page and hope, as all bereaved do, that there’s a chance for healing.”

—Nadia Hashimi, author of When the Moon is Low and The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

“Rajia Hassib’s timely novel is a gripping, hold-your-breath exposé about being Muslim in post-9/11 America where the heinous act of one can demonize all. But it’s also a universal, multi-generational, immigrant tale. The old-world, Egyptian grandmother’s bungled English, her prayers and incense, rub against her American-born, tech-savvy grandchildren’s bungled Arabic and Western music. It’s an intelligent, beautifully rendered reminder that no matter our ethnicity or creed, we all long for acceptance and a place to call home.”

—Marie Manilla, author of The Patron Saint of Ugly

“Rajia Hassib has a finger on the pulse of two languages and two cultures. She deftly spins an honest tale of a family reeling in the wake of tragedy, all the while exploring the subtle complexities embedded in communication, culture, and human relationships.”

—Laila Halaby, author of Once in a Promised Land

"Assured and beautifully crafted. . . . Hassib is a natural, graceful writer with a keen eye for cultural difference. . . . [She] handles the anatomy of grief with great delicacy. . . . In the Language of Miracles should find a large and eager readership. For the beauty of the writing alone, Hassib deserves it."
-Monica Ali, The New York Times Book Review

"This powerful and moving story wrestles with family, tradition, mental illness, grief, love, shame and the realities of being a Muslim in America post 9/11. . . . Hassib's characters live and breathe with an honesty and vulnerability that makes them unforgettable."
-The Herald-Dispatch

"A riveting and important book. It drives home the fact that no matter what religion we practice or country we are from, we are more alike than we think. [In the Language of Miracles] narrows the gap between us and may make us a bit more tolerant, understanding, and accepting."
-The Missourian

"Impressive. . . . From [Hassib's] first page to her denouement we can be gripped and moved by a study of the fault-lines within an immigrant family."
-The National

"Hassib writes with an authority uncommon in debut writers; in this important book, she weaves the beauty of Arabic culture with the harsh realities of modern American life with exceptional insight and poetic ease."
-Bustle.com

"[A] sensitive, finely wrought debut . . . sharply observant of immigrants' intricate relationships to their adopted homelands, this exciting novel announces the arrival of a psychologically and socially astute new writer."
-Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[A] stellar debut. . . . Thoughtfully examining the role of religion and prayer, parents and grandparents, this rich novel offers complex characters, beautiful writing, and astute observations about the similarities and differences between the Egyptian and American outlooks on life. It would be difficult to find a better book for any discussion group; highly recommended."
-Library Journal (starred review)

"Topical both in its take on race relations and in its depiction of a trouble young man with ready access to firearms. . . . Hassib is a capable writer, especially when dealing with the interpersonal. Her natural use of language resembles that of Khaled Hosseini."
-BookPage

"A family reckons with tragedy amid a storm of suspicion in Egyptian author Hassib's debut novel. . . . [In the Language of Miracles] offers fascinating insight into the lives of American Muslims, and the prejudice with which they contended in the years after 9/11."
-Publishers Weekly

"[An] admirable debut . . . Hassib does fine work portraying a family divided by culturally and generationally divergent reactions to a harrowing situation, and the novel builds to a gratifying crescendo as the memorial nears and tensions rise."
-Booklist

"Spoken words are all powerful in Rajia Hassib's masterful book about thought vs. action. Whether the characters are explaining, questioning, or stating their deepest beliefs, though, conversation never creates anything; it's the human response to the life that subsumes us, whether we're active or passive. In the face of tragedy, and even great happiness, abstractions fall away; the personal and particular endure. It's a very moving book."
-Ann Beattie

"Smart, nuanced and culturally dazzling, In the Language of Miracles is a heartrending story of Egyptians and Americans, of two families whose lives are intertwined and then unraveled by fate. Hassib's writing has an intoxicating quality that made this a page-turner, but by the end, her beautiful story surpasses its characters in its unflinching investigation of tragedy, mental illness, and healing across two cultures in conflict."
-Zoë Ferraris, author of Finding Nouf and City of Veils

"Rajia Hassib's In the Language of Miracles is a tautly told story of one family's grief and the quiet but daunting burden of survivorship. She has deftly captured their individual str

Rajia Hassib was born and raised in Egypt and moved to the United States when she was twenty-three. She holds an MA in creative writing from Marshall University and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker online, Upstreet, Steam Ticket, and Border Crossing magazines. She lives in West Virginia.

From the Hardcover edition.

Produktdetails

Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 304
Erscheinungsdatum 26.07.2016
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-14-310915-0
Verlag Penguin US
Maße (L/B/H) 20.3/13.6/2.5 cm
Gewicht 247 g

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