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Him, Me, Muhammad Ali

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  394 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Award-winning novelist Randa Jarrar's new story collection moves seamlessly between realism and fable, history and the present, capturing the lives of Muslim women and men across myriad geographies and circumstances. With acerbic wit, deep tenderness, and boundless imagination, Jarrar brings to life a memorable cast of characters, many of them "accidental transients"—a ter ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Sarabande Books
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  394 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
This book is fucking funny and fierce. Also, I wrote it.
Rachel León
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
(maybe 4.5 stars?)

Because of this Muslim ban horror, I've decided to read one book each month by/about Muslims. Randa Jarrar's short story collection was my first pick and it was fantastic. I was completely immersed in these stories and I don't think there was a single in the collection I didn't like. My favorites were "Lost in Freakin' Yonkers" and "The Life, Loves, and Adventures of Zelwa the Halfie." I loved Jarrar's writing and will be quick to read more of her work.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arabic-culture
Different and delicious.

Yes some books can be deliciously interesting, which provide some new taste to the reader. In this case, writer's unique and witty style, variation of issues makes this collection of short stories worth reading.

If you want to know contemporary Arab thought affected by changes across Middle East during last hundred years and about Arab immigrants to west through fiction, then this is an appropriate book to start with.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Jarrar has incredible talent in taking on the perspective of various protagonist identities, all of them complex and intersectional across ethnicity, gender, geography, and history, and with varying loyalties to their practice of Islam. She takes on identities both realist and fantastic (including a part-woman, part-ibex -- a metaphoric exploration of biracial identity) with compelling artistry. My frustration, which is completely on me, is that the short story format always leaves me hungry for ...more
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of 2016!
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Christina Cummings
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
loved how imaginative her stories are, remarkable how she could write from so many different perspectives, and what a sense of humor!
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Excellent, all-around.
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
One can make comparisons with the style (Bender, Diaz), but no comparison can be made with the perspective, and that's the book's greatest strength.
Martha Anne Toll
Here's my book review in The Millions.
To Open Borders: ‘Him, Me, Muhammad Ali’
By Martha Anne Toll posted at 6:00 am on October 11, 2016 0


coverIf you haven’t read Randa Jarrar, it’s time to. Jarrar’s debut novel, A Map of Home, introduced her as a smart and funny/not-so-funny writer. Jarrar grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, the daughter of an Egyptian-Greek mother and Palestinian father. She moved to the United States after the first Gulf War. A Map of Hom
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Randa Jarrar's short story collection HIM, ME, MUHAMMAD ALI is full of dark twisty characters; she's an Arab American Roald Dahl (like his collection SKIN and other stories, their worlds are whimsical yet treacherous). Her lively staccato use of language is the perfect foil to this darkness, keeping the reader suspended and engaged throughout. It never plods. Never holds your hand to the fire for longer than a few seconds at a time. The title story HIM, ME, MUHAMMAD ALI is one of the strongest s ...more
Nov 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
The best stories in this collection were "How Can I Be of Use to You?" "Building Girls,"Testimony of Malik, Prisoner #287690" and "Him, Me, Muhammad Ali." I loved the culture, humor, and themes of the book, but the writing itself felt a bit rushed. Often I was pulled out the narrative when I read about a "really, big delicious muffin," a clerk that was "pretty and patient," or I tried to make sense of a description like "I shut my eyes, pressed my lids tightly against each other." I'm still not ...more
S Cearley
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A stupendous collection of short stories. In all other instances, when works have characters I cannot identify with (many instances in my reviews), I feel less connected with the work, to the point of not seeing the function. In these cases, it is the opposite. I'm drawn in. I learn. I associate not through an empathetic connection to the characters and their trials, but a sympathetic one. And more importantly, I learn from them. I grow. I feel new connections. I don't understand other people in ...more
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
this book IS fucking funny and fierce. i loved every single sentence.
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
If 2016 hadn't converted me to appreciating short stories, this book single-handedly would have. I am willing to bet it would have a similar effect on anyone with memories of Egypt, a heart for feminism, an appreciation of stories about women's desires.

Extra bonus points for PhD students who appreciate this line: "I asked her why she was in Egypt, and she told me she was here doing research for her PhD. I wasn't sure how sunning herself on a balcony would get her a doctorate, but I said nothing
Sarah Furger
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this on recommendation from one of my best pals, and then suggested it for my bookclub. Aside from it being rather sexually explicit (which did not bother me, but perhaps I would not have chosen it for a first-round bookclub pick...) the stories are beautiful. I connected to so many of Jarrar's characters and even at their most painful moments, the stories were beautifully written. Highly recommend, especially if you enjoy Arab-American experiences and the female perspective.
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Awake, psychedelic, unapologetically brash and sassy. The book is good, too. If you must read one story as a teaser, read the final one about a half-Transjordanian ibex as she navigates the world and searches for love on a proxy site for Tinder. You'll pee yourself, just a little.
All the stories were remarkable and unforgettable but "Lost in Freakin' Yonkers", "A Frame for the Sky", "The Life, Loves, and Adventures of Zelwa the Halfie" were my favourites. I can't to read more from this author.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it
A very talented writer. The stories were so sad and depressing, though.
Danielle Baranowski
Funny and fierce indeed. Sometimes straight-to-the gut intense. Overall a great read.
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Best short story collection since Mary Gaitskill's.
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
All of these stories are magnificent and I couldn't love you more, Randa Jarrar.

Rich, well-rounded, and diverse characters and stories. Definitely recommend.
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Decent collection of short stories - some were amazing, others were so so.
xTx xTx
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
So good. Loved.
Leah Angstman
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wonderful, imaginative stories of the strength, willpower, and love lives of Arab women.
Miss Susan
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia, poc-author
honestly this took me so long to finish i don't really remember what i thought of the stories? i read zalwa the halfie last night and liked it though and obviously enjoyed the collection enough to make it through so 3 stars
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If there's a book for displaced and Nomadic peoples of our generation, then this is it. Jarrar's characters beautifully narrate the pain and heartache of being stuck between different cultures, worlds and lives. She manages to capture the incessant feeling that each of us has that the 'other' with a life completely opposite to ours, is better off.

Each short story ends with a pang. Like being punched in the gut, you know that this person, whose life you had a fleeting peek into, will now carry o
Nov 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I received this book from GR Giveaways and I'm grateful for that.

This collection of 13 short stories is completely incomparable. Jarrar's writing is innovative, bold, bittersweet, and witty. I found reading this book to be refreshing as well as challenging in the best way--I had to stretch outside the usual confines and expectations.

Here she breaks new ground with a twist and spin. Where else could stories include jokes about a vibrator and a half-human, half-ibex person? The characters and situ
I seem to be the odd one out and did not enjoy this short story collection. I very much like reading from the perspective of an Arab women and how she sees the world, the writing wasn’t the issue so much as the crassness. I really had a problem with the third story and by the fifth knew this wasn’t for me. How many stories need to include masturbating. DNF’d at 50% . I gave three stars but I think it’s a two star for me. The extra star is because there just are not enough books in the mainstream ...more
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Randa Jarrar is the author of the novel A Map of Home and the collection of stories Him, Me, Muhammad Ali. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Salon, Bitch, Buzzfeed, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of a Creative Capital Award and an American Book Award, as well as awards and fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, Hedgebrook, PEN, and others. ...more

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