Fencing with the King
Amani is hooked on a mystery-a poem on airmail paper that slips out of one of her father’s books. It seems to have been written by her grandmother, a refugee who arrived in Jordan during the First World War.
Soon the perfect occasion to investigate arises: her Uncle Hafez, an advisor to the King of Jordan, invites her father to celebrate the king’s sixtieth birthday-and to fence with the king, as in their youth. Her father has avoided returning to his homeland for decades, but Amani persuades him to come with her. Uncle Hafez will make their time in Jordan complicated-and dangerous-after Amani discovers a missing relative and is launched into a journey of loss, history and, eventually, a fight for her own life.
Fencing with the King masterfully draws on King Lear and Arthurian fable to explore the power of inheritance, the trauma of displacement and whether we can release the past to build a future.
"Fencing With the King... is a rare pleasure. Abu-Jaber's rich characters live and breathe around you, and her nuance and wit bring the largest themes to irresistible, present life." -- Claire Messud, author of A Burning Girl "The best novel I've read all year: shimmering prose, compelling emotion, and utterly impossible to put down. Rarely has the terroir of ancestry been so masterfully evoked. Abu-Jaber's best yet." -- Nicole Mones, author of The Last Chinese Chef "Diana Abu Jaber outdoes herself with this brilliantly paced and utterly absorbing novel. From start to finish, her dynamic prose and seemingly effortless storytelling create an original narrative of love, intrigue, and family/global dynamics." -- Laila Halaby, author of Once in a Promised Land "I read...Fencing With the King in one sitting - I couldn't stop. Ambitious, vivid, compelling, and full of life, this rich family story tells so many truths and uses family myths and fables to explore complex history, intergenerational trauma, and the wounds of exile and displacement." -- Etaf Rum, author of A Woman is No Man "[The author] approaches Middle Eastern modernity with a profluent storytelling style. I have long admired Abu-Jaber's craftsmanship... Like an intricate recipe, her paragraphs balance interior and external worlds, elegant diction and workmanlike narrative." -- Sarah Cypher - The Washington Post
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