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Alligator and Other Stories

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  168 ratings  ·  34 reviews
The award-winning stories in Dima Alzayat’s collection are luminous and tender, whether dealing with a woman performing burial rites for her brother in “Ghusl,” or a great-aunt struggling to explain cultural identity to her niece in “Once We Were Syrians.”

Alzayat’s stories are rich and relatable, chronicling a sense of displacement through everyday scenarios. There is the
Paperback, 206 pages
Published May 29th 2020 by Two Dollar Radio
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love the range of the stories here. The title story is outstanding as is the opening story. I look forward to reading more from Alzayat.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dima Alzayat was born in Syria, raised in the US, and now lives in the UK. This set of stories speak to the Syrian experience inside history and violence but also in small ways - generational tension that comes from children growing up in a different culture from parents and grandparents, and so on. The title story goes back to a lynching of a Syrian couple in Florida and is told in artifacts like newspaper clippings, etc.

This collection comes out from Two Dollar Radio on May 29; they sent me a
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"There used to be a time when our names mattered, when being Syrian meant somthing else. Turn that off. They could count us like grains of rice. I cannot bear it. Come closer."

Two Dollar Radio has done it again! I have yet to read something they have published and not absolutely love it!

Alligator and Other Stories is a haunting collection of stories that focus on the Syrian experience. Showcasing the violence, grief, intergenerational trauma and cultural differences through generatio
Ben Thurley
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is such a beautiful collection of stories, although haunting and more than a little harrowing. Alzayat's prose is gorgeous and each story is its own world in miniature. I probably loved the title story the least; it's multi-media experiment was thought-provoking but I didn't find it emotionally engaging in the ways her other stories were. I really enjoyed this. ...more
I love how the style of Alzayat’s prose changes with the subject matter of the story she’s writing. In “Ghusl”, it’s haunting and poetic, as the main character performs a ritual over her brother’s dead body. In “Only Those Who Struggle Succeed”, Alzayat strips back her prose as she details the horrendous acts of sexism that Lina has to endure during her fight up the corporate ladder. In the titular story, “Alligator”, Alzayat uses a mixed media style, combining historical documents and social me ...more
May 21, 2020 rated it liked it

This had a really strong start. Ghusl had me crying with its intricacies and beautiful detailing. I generally liked most of the stories. However, as with most anthologies I read, I lost interest in the title story, Alligator. It had an important discussion and message, used real newspaper clippings and stories in a different format. However, aside from one story after this that focused on 9/11, I lost interest. That being said, Alzayat has such an amazing talent in her ability to tell a sto
Luke Spooner
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
This book is so good! Might be the best fiction (maybe book in general) I've read this year. The title story is unlike anything I've read before, and the rest are also excellent. ...more
Jan 29, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

The stories are fast paced, poignant and very well narrated. Think of this like a bunch of Vignettes with the undertones of alienation in a foreign country.

Only those who struggle succeed
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Cue cheesy AF quote: 🐊 A short story is like a holiday fling: we know it won’t last but we just don’t care🐊 (atleast I didn’t say live laugh love, huh? 🧐😂) I love short stories: the miniature universes created in around 15 pages and how every word counts. It takes skillz to condense a narrative into short form but still make it resonate the same way a 300+ page book will. Dims Alzayat manages all of this with ease, I read this short story collection slowly and then fast because each story grippe ...more
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really loved this collection of stories. Each of these short stories are so powerful, each of them a unique piece of their own world. I enjoyed how the prose and the genre seemed fluid in these stories: Alzayat explores beautifully what language can do and build in words. Every story is world of its own, with its own history, moment in time, and so full of life. It never fails to amaze me, how a good short story author can make you feel with the characters in such a brief moment; I felt wronge ...more
Amanda Morus
Jan 22, 2021 rated it liked it
(3.5 stars) Even though I wasn’t particularly impressed by this book, the author demonstrates a lot of talent. I think some stories were good- excellent imagery- but often too predictable and not adding much depth to an already existing conversation. My biggest critic is that the author didn’t seem to totally understand her characters, probably because the aim at greater social commentary such as racism, sexual abuse or abuse of authority, and other identity issues.

Super interested by her use o
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Everyone said to bear the years. Nothing but time will make it better, they said. But time's a stretched rubber band bound to snap right back into place. '

From 'Alligator'.

A powerful, thought provoking short story collection, that looks at the othering of people in society, based on immigration, race, disability , sexuality and gender.

The stories that stayed with me are: Ghusi: a sister washes her brother's body, Disappearance: child play gets out of hand, Only those who struggle succeed: an am
Elias Jahshan
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This debut short story collection from Dima Alzayat truly captures the range of her writing and storytelling. Each and every of the nine stories are told in their unique way, with different voices, perspectives and tones. They encapsulate the many ways we can be displaced and made to feel "other”, and are tales of grief, hope, search for meaning, and identities caught in the crossfire between two cultures. Alzayat has genuinely promising talent and I cannot wait to read more of her work in the f ...more
Dabney O’Riordan
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
I do not recommend this collection of short stories. The author has promise, and I look forward to more from her. Here, however, her stories felt incomplete and the Alligator short story was incredibly painful and exhausting to read. Midway through the Alligator, I was so frustrated with the author’s choices for what should have been a fascinating story, that I had to put the book down for a week. How her editor let this through, I have no idea.
Claire Brown
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a really moving collection of short stories from Syrian perspectives. Each story is completely different, but I particularly enjoyed A Girl In Three Acts which follows the voice of a Syrian orphan girl living in US, being othered and experiencing well-meaning but ignorant white foster parents, teachers and peers.
Dec 06, 2020 rated it liked it
I loved the range of experiences represented in these stories. I thought the first part of the book was stronger than the final part. The titular story had a fascinating historical premise, but I found the context switching hard to follow. It also was a very long short story and I lost momentum, which made it a struggle to finish the book.
Anna (Bailed to go to Storygraph! Username: acweber)
This tweaked and complicated my understand of what a short story collection can be and do, similar to how Friday Black did the same with its forms and themes. Dima is formidable, Alligator will swallow you whole.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
As is to be expected with almost any short story collection, especially a debut, some of the stories in here didn't quite work for me, but the ones that did, OMG did they hit hard! Some of them I'd call downright brilliant. I'm very much looking forward to whatever Dima Alzayat will publish next. ...more
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories


"But more than that, she longed to tell the young woman to carry fire, soon and often, to tell the others, and to set alight everything she saw, to waste no time burning all her bridges down,: (68)

"Who could count if what was gained is more or less than what was lost? (179)
Anneke Alnatour
Great collection of short stories, that were very different, but very impactful in their own way. Loved that the writing style between the stories differed.

Looking forward to reading more by this author
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who reads Carmen Maria Machado
Recommended to BIPOC by: Two Dollar Radio
What makes Alzayat's short story collection stand out amongst the noise is how it occupies a space that is at once soulful and muted. With strategic brevity, this collection boasts three short stories that we are still talking about: Ghusl, Alligator, and Once We Were Syrians. ...more
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021, shorts
Wow. Every story was fantastic and they stood out so well against each other. Alzayat’s writing is so versatile and wholly original. I love how she can meander through stories of such different characters with such grace. A supremely talented writer! I’m excited to read more of her work.
Apr 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This set of short stories is a great example of why I really enjoy the genre. The varying Arab and Arab American perspectives were all unique yet tied together so well as a collection. I will definitely look out for this author and read more of her work.
Kade Johnston
Apr 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
9/10 three or four fantastic stories the rest of them were solid but a bit scattered and harder to follow but the last two especially girl in three acts are fantastic and illustrate life as a refugee in both your personal and social life
Jan 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: review
The author described this book of short stories as varied, challenging and heartbreaking. I would agree. While I didn’t love it, I very much enjoyed her experimentation.
Sep 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haunting, vivid, important.
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Powerful creative writing. But stories are dark, ominous, and unsettling.
MilesTeller Shirtless
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Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
An astonishing collection of short stories that will turn you inside out and then shake you so the lint and coins will come out. I'm embarrassed to say this was my first exposure to reading about Syrian American experiences, and I learned a lot. Some fascinating play with form, especially in the title story. ...more
Cassie (book__gal)
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A moving and beautiful collection of stories encapsulating the Syrian experience, and more broadly, assimilation. Each story is different in its structure and voice, but always feels connected to these themes. Furthermore, there’s this underlying hum you can feel vibrating through all the stories: the struggle for acceptance, the pursuit of belonging, and the importance of memory, of record, of knowing the people and places a person originates from. Many short story collections can suffer from a ...more
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Dima Alzayat was born in Damascus, Syria, grew up in San Jose, California, and now lives in Manchester.

She was the winner of the 2019 Society of Authors’ ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award, a 2018 Northern Writers’ Award, the 2017 Bristol Short Story Prize and the 2015 Bernice Slote Award, runner-up in the 2018 Deborah Rogers Award and the 2018 Zoetrope: All-Story Competition, and was Highly Commended in

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“Everyone said to bear the years. Nothing but time will make it better, they said. But time's a stretched rubber band bound to snap right back into place.” 0 likes
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