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Him, Me, Muhammad Ali

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  336 ratings  ·  55 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
Paperback, 216 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Sarabande Books
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4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  336 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
This book is fucking funny and fierce. Also, I wrote it.
Rachel León
(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.
"I knew what she wanted to hear, so I said, 'My fear of ending up alone. My fear that people are talking about me behind my furry back. My feelings of inadequacy. My general feeling of difference.'"

LGBT OwnVoices Bingo: Muslim MC

Randa Jarrar was in the news a bit recently for calling Barbara Bush an "amazing racist" and stating "I'm happy the witch is dead", so it was a great coincidence that I happened to be reading this short story collection of hers, with all Muslim main characters, at the ti
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books of 2016!
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, favorites
4.5, but rounded up.

What a great collection of short stories!
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Martha 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
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 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a good collection! I had some trouble with a few of the stories because I was in a huge reading slump, but most were pretty memorable. My favorites were "The Lunatics' Eclipse" and "The Life, Loves, and Adventures of Zelwa the Halfie" because they both had creative speculative elements woven into the characters' daily lives. I wish there were more stories like those! Some of the stories ended somewhat abruptly to me. Many of the ideas would've made great novellas or even full-length nov ...more
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
S Cearley
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
this book IS fucking funny and fierce. i loved every single sentence.
Sarah Furger
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Funny, buoyant, bold, unapologetic, and wonderful stories. Some favorites- The Lunatic's Eclipse, Building Girls, Grace, A Frame for the Sky, Him Me Muhammad Ali, and The Lifes, Loves, and Adventures of Zelwa the Halfie.
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5. Loved this.
Apr 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Excellent, all-around.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very talented writer. The stories were so sad and depressing, though.
Christina Cummings
loved how imaginative her stories are, remarkable how she could write from so many different perspectives, and what a sense of humor!
Leah Angstman
Wonderful, imaginative stories of the strength, willpower, and love lives of Arab women.
xTx xTx
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
So good. Loved.
Jan 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Decent collection of short stories - some were amazing, others were so so.
Nov 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ursula Villarreal-Moura
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
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.
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best short story collection since Mary Gaitskill's.
Danielle Baranowski
Funny and fierce indeed. Sometimes straight-to-the gut intense. Overall a great read.
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Randa Jarrar is the author of the critically acclaimed books A Map of Home and Him, Me, Muhammad Ali. She has won the American Book Award, a PEN Oakland, and the Arab American Book Award. Her work has appeared in The Oxford American, Salon, The New York Times Magazine, Guernica, Utne, and the Sun, and she was selected for Beirut39, which celebrates the 39 most gifted writers of Arab origin under a ...more