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Rayyan Al-Shawaf

RAYYAN AL-SHAWAF is a writer and book critic in Beirut.

To Air Is Human

Jonas Woldemariam, the diffident and aloof Ethiopian-American narrator of Dinaw Mengestu’s How to Read the Air, was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois, but is afflicted with the angst and uncertainty of a deracinated and perpetual migrant.

A Sexual Revival?

Meg Wolitzer has an uncanny ability to turn the mundane but consuming difficulties of marriage and motherhood into biting and humorous novelistic fare.

The Young and the Radical

The Muslim American novel has arrived, and it is titled American Dervish. There have been other novels by and about Muslim Americans, but Ayad Akhtar’s tale distinguishes itself from its predecessors—and, one can safely predict, from its successors—by probing controversial aspects of Islam alongside its sympathetic portrayal of one Muslim American boy’s maturation.

A Compelling, If Foggy Debut

Some might grumble that the novel Out of It, with its secular, nominally Muslim, and Westernized Palestinian protagonists who oppose Islamists both for their ideology and their attacks on Israeli civilian targets, was deliberately crafted with the intent of making a much-maligned Arab people more palatable to a Western readership.

Frederick & Fyodor

You would be forgiven the assumption that The Black Russian, a new book by Vladimir Alexandrov, is about the vodka and coffee liqueur cocktail.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2023

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