counter create hit Love Is an Ex-Country - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

Love Is an Ex-Country

Availability: Ready to download

Queer. Muslim. Arab American. A proudly Fat woman. Randa Jarrar is all of these things. In this provocative memoir of a cross-country road trip, she explores how to claim joy in an unraveling and hostile America. Randa Jarrar is a fearless voice of dissent who has been called “politically incorrect” (Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times). As an American raised for a time i Queer. Muslim. Arab American. A proudly Fat woman. Randa Jarrar is all of these things. In this provocative memoir of a cross-country road trip, she explores how to claim joy in an unraveling and hostile America. Randa Jarrar is a fearless voice of dissent who has been called “politically incorrect” (Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times). As an American raised for a time in Egypt, and finding herself captivated by the story of a celebrated Egyptian belly dancer’s journey across the United States in the 1940s, she sets off from her home in California to her parents’ in Connecticut. Coloring this road trip are journeys abroad and recollections of a life lived with daring. Reclaiming her autonomy after a life of survival—domestic assault as a child, and later, as a wife; threats and doxxing after her viral tweet about Barbara Bush—Jarrar offers a bold look at domestic violence, single motherhood, and sexuality through the lens of the punished-yet-triumphant body. On the way, she schools a rest-stop racist, destroys Confederate flags in the desert, and visits the Chicago neighborhood where her immigrant parents first lived. Hailed as “one of the finest writers of her generation” (Laila Lalami), Jarrar delivers a euphoric and critical, funny and profound memoir that will speak to anyone who has felt erased, asserting: I am here. I am joyful.


Compare

Queer. Muslim. Arab American. A proudly Fat woman. Randa Jarrar is all of these things. In this provocative memoir of a cross-country road trip, she explores how to claim joy in an unraveling and hostile America. Randa Jarrar is a fearless voice of dissent who has been called “politically incorrect” (Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times). As an American raised for a time i Queer. Muslim. Arab American. A proudly Fat woman. Randa Jarrar is all of these things. In this provocative memoir of a cross-country road trip, she explores how to claim joy in an unraveling and hostile America. Randa Jarrar is a fearless voice of dissent who has been called “politically incorrect” (Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times). As an American raised for a time in Egypt, and finding herself captivated by the story of a celebrated Egyptian belly dancer’s journey across the United States in the 1940s, she sets off from her home in California to her parents’ in Connecticut. Coloring this road trip are journeys abroad and recollections of a life lived with daring. Reclaiming her autonomy after a life of survival—domestic assault as a child, and later, as a wife; threats and doxxing after her viral tweet about Barbara Bush—Jarrar offers a bold look at domestic violence, single motherhood, and sexuality through the lens of the punished-yet-triumphant body. On the way, she schools a rest-stop racist, destroys Confederate flags in the desert, and visits the Chicago neighborhood where her immigrant parents first lived. Hailed as “one of the finest writers of her generation” (Laila Lalami), Jarrar delivers a euphoric and critical, funny and profound memoir that will speak to anyone who has felt erased, asserting: I am here. I am joyful.

30 review for Love Is an Ex-Country

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bandit

    This was something of a misunderstanding and probably my fault. The description led me to believe it was more of a road trip sort of travelogue (though the author has lived a fairly nomadic life and does seem to travel a good amount) with personal reminiscences thrown in. But no, this is very much a memoir and a nonlinear one at that, than any sort of travelogue. It owes its nonlinear nature due to being comprises of a variety of previously published essays. I’ve actually recently read and loved This was something of a misunderstanding and probably my fault. The description led me to believe it was more of a road trip sort of travelogue (though the author has lived a fairly nomadic life and does seem to travel a good amount) with personal reminiscences thrown in. But no, this is very much a memoir and a nonlinear one at that, than any sort of travelogue. It owes its nonlinear nature due to being comprises of a variety of previously published essays. I’ve actually recently read and loved a book done in that format, so that wasn’t the main detractor here. The detractor was…the memoir or really its subject. And here’s the thing with memoirs…to review one is to, essentially, review someone’s life, something this reader personally is considerably less comfortable with than reviewing other genres. This is one of the reasons I stay away from memoirs, the other one being…general dislike for the oversharing self important nature of the genre. If I’m interested in someone’s life (and for this they had to have led a really interesting and accomplished life), I’ll read a bio. Preferably, a posthumous one, something with a proper perspective. Memoirs are like personal blogs in their essential look at me, look at me nature. And because it’s generally difficult to attract attention of the attention deficit audience, the memoirs have to be fairly outlandish and, especially these days, check as many diversity boxes as possible. And the Jarrar checks a lot of boxes (Muslim, Arab American, queer, kinky, abuse survivor, fat) and isn’t shy to talk about any of them. So let’s talk about those…Jarrar self admittedly is Muslim conceptually and not in practice, so essentially she talks the walk without walking the walk. She is Arab American of a mixed Palestinian and Egyptian family, but she (her words) passes for white, so she gets a lot of mileage out of that too. Some of the discrimination arising from that is bewildering (ways of the world bewildering), like her being unable to enter Palestine for a family visit, she got turned away by Israelis and out on a plane back to the US, despite being an American citizen. Queer, that’s a popular one these days, such a generous blanket definition, yes, occasionally it seems Jarrar sleeps with women, though every relationship mentioned in the book is with a man. Kinky…definitely, a relatively late in life found passion that she talks about with great, great detail and advocates for avidly. Abuse survivor…now that’s a heavy one. And possibly causal for some of the other ones, mainly kink. Apparently, Jarrar has been brutally abused (both physically and psychologically) by her father, to the extent that at 16 she had to call the cops on him. She doesn’t much get into whether his abusive nature stems from coming from a culture where women are systemically treated as lesser than and/or property or if he’s just a terrible person, but apparently comes to forgive him in later years, somehow. After leaving her family, she found herself repeating the cycle of abuse, this time with a man who essentially forced her to go through with an unwanted pregnancy at 18, resulting in her only son…and boy, I’m sure he loves to hear that origin story. And yet, somehow, Jarrar managed to overcome all that abuse, to go on, get an education, raise a child and become an author and a professor. Ok, that right there, that’s impressive, like memoir worthy, but does she talk about that? No. Because it isn’t as wild and attention grabbing as kinky sex. Or fatness. Oh wow, does Jarrar get a lot of mileage out of her fatness. She calls herself proudly fat and that’s just…stupid. Yes, there goes judgement and I’m sure it’s an incendiary thing to say in a country as fat as America, but what the f is there to be proud of? When someone says they are proud of being fat, they are saying they are proud of terrible choices, horrible diets, lack of self discipline, lack of personal fitness, etc. Fat/obesity is a very real thing, with many causes, but it can be managed and it should be managed and fought, for a myriad of valid reasons. Just because there’s so much of it around, doesn’t make it ok. It certainly doesn’t make it something to be proud of. It’s just wrong, so wrong, on so many levels. But Jarrar loves her fat body and seems to easily find people to love her fat body and talks about it in endless minute detail with a sort of desperate conviction that personal affirmations seem to have. Like if you say it enough, it might become real. So yeah…that just about covers the size 22 body and the 240 page body of work the author presents on display here. I believe in the importance of different diverse perspectives, but this one didn’t really engage me. When we review memoirs, we review people writing them and the person writing this one was someone I wouldn’t necessarily want to know or have a lot of interest in. Dangerous thing to say in a PC obsessed day and age, but there’s nothing really incendiary about this opinion and it had nothing to do with her race, faith, sexual orientation, gender, etc. This was just more along the lines of a reaction of a morbidly obese person sitting next to you and oversharing obscenely, TMI style, all the while expecting to be somehow admired for this. And many do, this book first 4% (I checked), a not insignificant amount for a relatively slim book, is taken up by praise for this and other works from respectable diverse sources. So maybe it just wasn’t for me. Anyway, it at least read very quickly, I’d hate for it to have been proudly fat book. Thanks Netgalley.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    3.5 stars. Raw and traumatic. Beautiful prose.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Randa

    This is a book made on and by the loom of my body. It is "meandering," disorienting, and non-linear on purpose, as it is a reflection of my own body and experiences as a refugee and a survivor of assaults. If you sense that the book is for you, it was truly written for you. This is a book made on and by the loom of my body. It is "meandering," disorienting, and non-linear on purpose, as it is a reflection of my own body and experiences as a refugee and a survivor of assaults. If you sense that the book is for you, it was truly written for you.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paris (parisperusing)

    Tried this one a second time and the rhythm just isn’t there for me. For a road trip memoir, the book feels oddly directionless — U-turns in every chapter with odd reflections, random detours of sexual escapades with no real purpose (albeit no judgement here). Not to mention, it reads less like a story in motion than a hodgepodge of tense encounters with racists to flat observations of social media culture to very sensitive recollections of abuse, trauma and conflicts with racial identity. The wr Tried this one a second time and the rhythm just isn’t there for me. For a road trip memoir, the book feels oddly directionless — U-turns in every chapter with odd reflections, random detours of sexual escapades with no real purpose (albeit no judgement here). Not to mention, it reads less like a story in motion than a hodgepodge of tense encounters with racists to flat observations of social media culture to very sensitive recollections of abuse, trauma and conflicts with racial identity. The writing is also tediously plain in many parts while thriving in few others. Overall, it’s the lack of concentration and consistency that didn’t do well for me. Admittedly, I may not be this author’s target reader, and that’s okay. There were moments with which I engaged and connected deeply, but sadly not enough to stick around for the ride.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Love is an Ex-Country is a stunningly bold, no holds barred and brutally honest memoir from a queer, Muslim who is also a big, beautiful brown woman and her autobiography explores the intersectionality and overlapping nature of race, sexuality, religion, gender, identity, trauma, abuse and female personification. She explores these throughout the cross-country road trip and sweeping adventure she embarked on in 2016 from California through to her parents home state of Connecticut as well as soak Love is an Ex-Country is a stunningly bold, no holds barred and brutally honest memoir from a queer, Muslim who is also a big, beautiful brown woman and her autobiography explores the intersectionality and overlapping nature of race, sexuality, religion, gender, identity, trauma, abuse and female personification. She explores these throughout the cross-country road trip and sweeping adventure she embarked on in 2016 from California through to her parents home state of Connecticut as well as soaking up the cultural treats each place along her route had to offer. It's an unforgettably raw and relatable read comprised of multiple authoritative essays on a rich array of topical issues: including police brutality, systemic racism, the discrimination still present in America and many other finely tuned, straight-talking and provocative pieces. I loved how original it was and Jarrar’s voice forces us to take a long hard look and evaluate the issues that impact us every day. She talks openly and empoweringly about self-love and accepting ourselves as we are which is a strong, inspiring message and is told in a refreshingly original, no f*cks given fashion. A set of beautifully portrayed vignettes with such wonderfully uplifting and often humourous messages that are balanced out by the trauma and hardship suffered, Jarrar examines queerness, kink, race, domestic violence, and love through the lens of the body, as well as how to claim joy in an unravelling and hostile world. Her most important pieces remind you to love your authentic self and not to let anyone change you, and I found her words powerful and incisive with a profound sense of realness that is missing from many similar books. Highly recommended to those who have always struggled to fit in, to be heard and to conform to societies standards or to love themselves. Let this book show you that regardless of the way you look, your sexuality, your past traumas and how you identify, you are as entitled as anyone else to love and accept yourself and to treat yourself with the kindness you deserve. It's funny and fierce and above all reminds you that the joy and the pain we have each been through makes us the beautiful person we are today. Unapologetically and without mincing her words, Jarrar takes you on the journey of her lifetime where she reflects on both her identity and her past. Highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    س

    Was lucky to be able to get my hands on an advance copy of Randa Jarrar’s new memoir, out February 2021, and which I wolfed down in just two days. The memoir is a wonderful and unapologetic meditation on (and celebration of) the body, identity, loneliness, kink, home, community, pain, trauma and acceptance. It is so rare for a book to make you laugh out loud one minute and then feel tearful the next. Randa, I am so thankful that you are here and that you continue to write so openly and vulnerabl Was lucky to be able to get my hands on an advance copy of Randa Jarrar’s new memoir, out February 2021, and which I wolfed down in just two days. The memoir is a wonderful and unapologetic meditation on (and celebration of) the body, identity, loneliness, kink, home, community, pain, trauma and acceptance. It is so rare for a book to make you laugh out loud one minute and then feel tearful the next. Randa, I am so thankful that you are here and that you continue to write so openly and vulnerably. We are so lucky to have you.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Schulman

    For years the writer Nancy Kricorian fought to create a panel of Palestinian writers at PEN/American's annual international writers conference. Finally Barrak Alzaid and I and some others joined in and the first PEN sponsored Palestinian conversation was held at the New School. There I heard Randa Jarrar for the first time, and I have been a loyal fan of her work ever since. Jarrar is very smart. She has a voice that absolutely no other writer has- in that she juxtaposes a number of specific int For years the writer Nancy Kricorian fought to create a panel of Palestinian writers at PEN/American's annual international writers conference. Finally Barrak Alzaid and I and some others joined in and the first PEN sponsored Palestinian conversation was held at the New School. There I heard Randa Jarrar for the first time, and I have been a loyal fan of her work ever since. Jarrar is very smart. She has a voice that absolutely no other writer has- in that she juxtaposes a number of specific intimate and political experiences in organic ways that reveals their resonances and links. The most riveting sections of her new memoir are a fully processed and completely lucid description of being beaten by her father, and a dangerous detention at Ben-Gurion airport when she is denied a visit to her sister in Palestine. Because this writer has done a lot of personal and intellectual work, her most complex confrontations are fully shared with the reader. She is also the only literary intellectual I know of who posts video of her shaking her butt cheeks in a thong as an announcement for a reading. She doesn't have to do that, but she wants to. And this is the theme of her work: doing what she wants to do: being sexual in ways that her family disapproves of, being a young mother, being fat, facing the constant reality of being a refugee in exile, her search for love, saying what she wants to say when she wants to say it. This is a memoir of the assertion of will and a defiance of any expectations externally exposed. The three Palestine-American women writers with excellent new books out this year: Susan Abulhawa, Zaina Arrafat, and Randa Jarrar are as different as any writer could possibly be, and yet all take on their subjects with integrity, and artful intelligence.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ming

    I thank Catapult for this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a bracing, upfront book.  Jarrar maintains her sense of humor, a firm grasp of irony, and a deeply observant eye.  I admire her strength and her clear-eyed gaze despite and/or because of her harrowing experiences.  Importantly, she kept a sense of joy and nurtured out-of-the-box quirkiness and creativity. Her memoir recounts her hunger for life and for liberation beyond various oppressors and naysayers. The writi I thank Catapult for this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is a bracing, upfront book.  Jarrar maintains her sense of humor, a firm grasp of irony, and a deeply observant eye.  I admire her strength and her clear-eyed gaze despite and/or because of her harrowing experiences.  Importantly, she kept a sense of joy and nurtured out-of-the-box quirkiness and creativity. Her memoir recounts her hunger for life and for liberation beyond various oppressors and naysayers. The writing here is also poetic and keenly crafted in equal measure. She is fearless and unapologetic. I enjoyed her two previous fiction titles and her wry and on-point tweets. She has written some of the most imaginative stories I've ever read. With her memoir, I can further appreciate Jarrar's creative voice. I read this book during the 2020 elections and its aftermath. And this book helped me have a sense of hope. Her last chapter had an ending that was forgiving and loving; it touched me beyond description because Jarrar could have been righteously depressed and worn down but she wasn't.  She chose her own path and made her own light.  I will read more of her works.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I loved this book a lot a lot. But I want to say one thing. There is a chapter in here in which the author is describing her sexless marriage and it’s painful as an ace person to keep reading these narratives where not having or wanting sex is equated with wrongness. Jarrar is a person who loves sex, and that is great! I really enjoyed reading about her exploration of kink and consent and I love how she writes about sex as a complex thing that involves power and discovery and oppression and empo I loved this book a lot a lot. But I want to say one thing. There is a chapter in here in which the author is describing her sexless marriage and it’s painful as an ace person to keep reading these narratives where not having or wanting sex is equated with wrongness. Jarrar is a person who loves sex, and that is great! I really enjoyed reading about her exploration of kink and consent and I love how she writes about sex as a complex thing that involves power and discovery and oppression and empowerment, and how it makes her feel and experience her body. I’m about it. But that one little part in which she wrote that she and her partner did have sex sometimes so she knew nothing was wrong with him but it was just because he didn’t desire her? It grates on me because of how often things like that are said. And that’s because people lack education around this, not because people are bad. I don’t know the details of that relationship but I am tired of the assumption that sex is *the* marker of a good relationship. I think Jarrar would agree, the real marker of a good relationship is communication. That said, this book is fire. It’s funny and incisive and profound and profoundly moving. The writing flows beautifully and some of the sentences are among the best I’ve read. I highly recommend it. CW: abuse of all kinds, racist violence.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Danika at The Lesbrary

    While this is a memoir, it reminded me of an essay collection meets poetry: Jarrar often writes in short paragraphs juxtaposing different topics. In the space of one page, she examines dolls from half a dozen perspectives: as playthings, as childhood punching bags, as used in therapy, as gifts, as sexualized muse by certain artists, and being treated as one. It feels like there are spaces between these ideas for the reader to fill in, to actively make those connections. This is a book that requir While this is a memoir, it reminded me of an essay collection meets poetry: Jarrar often writes in short paragraphs juxtaposing different topics. In the space of one page, she examines dolls from half a dozen perspectives: as playthings, as childhood punching bags, as used in therapy, as gifts, as sexualized muse by certain artists, and being treated as one. It feels like there are spaces between these ideas for the reader to fill in, to actively make those connections. This is a book that requires a lot of trigger warnings. She includes harrowing details of her abuse, including physical abuse by her father, domestic abuse, and reproductive coercion. This memoir left me with a lot to think about. Jarrar describes suffering through so much abuse in her life, and feeling trapped and powerless. She discusses racism and misogyny and how they underpin so much of American society. At the same time, there is hope here. She is also a proud fat queer Arab woman, unafraid to speak her mind. If you want a thoughtful, challenging memoir that will leave you thinking, definitely pick this one up. Full review is at the Lesbrary.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    One of my favorite memoirs this year. Randa is a kick ass writer with no filter and I LOVED it. I devoured this incredible memoir in one sitting! I loved Randa's kick ass prose. She has a gift of providing the reader with all emotions on the rainbow spectrum. I cried, laughed, hollered as Randa leads you on her journey filled with trials and tribulations, but most importantly hope. With the reminder to never lose your voice. She has truly become one of my favorite Arab writers, a unique importan One of my favorite memoirs this year. Randa is a kick ass writer with no filter and I LOVED it. I devoured this incredible memoir in one sitting! I loved Randa's kick ass prose. She has a gift of providing the reader with all emotions on the rainbow spectrum. I cried, laughed, hollered as Randa leads you on her journey filled with trials and tribulations, but most importantly hope. With the reminder to never lose your voice. She has truly become one of my favorite Arab writers, a unique important voice missing in literature especially in memoir! Facing all the challenges from childhood through domestic strife, single motherhood and persona non grata after speaking her true authentic voice about the evil Bush Matriarch, you will be cheering Randa throughout the entire book. Memoir is my forte and I highly recommend this book to every bookseller, reader and memoirist. Love Is An Ex-Country has my vote for the Memoir of 2021.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    I have what I believe are some valid criticisms of the book, but I want to be clear from the beginning that I really adored this memoir and did not find the criticism-worthy parts to be deal-breakers. I just want to be upfront about the things I noticed so other readers know more about what to expect. When I read the line in the synopsis “In this provocative memoir of a cross-country road trip, she explores how to claim joy in an unraveling and hostile America,” I thought the book was going to b I have what I believe are some valid criticisms of the book, but I want to be clear from the beginning that I really adored this memoir and did not find the criticism-worthy parts to be deal-breakers. I just want to be upfront about the things I noticed so other readers know more about what to expect. When I read the line in the synopsis “In this provocative memoir of a cross-country road trip, she explores how to claim joy in an unraveling and hostile America,” I thought the book was going to be grounded in an actual cross-country road trip. As in, the road trip would form the narrative arc of the story and U.S. travel would be a major factor of the book, so other elements (like recollections, social commentary, etc.) would spin off of that. However, after reading the memoir I don’t think that element of the synopsis is really accurate. Love Is an Ex-Country isn’t a real-life On the Road in Trump’s America, which is what that descriptor would lead you to believe. The memoir is about a road trip only in the loosest and broadest sense. Yes, Randa does travel to a couple of places in the US, though it sounded like it was less of one continuous trip than it was driving here, flying there, driving somewhere else, and flying somewhere else with each destination punctuated by a break in the travel. Furthermore, there was just as much, if not more, international travel than U.S. travel––which is awesome, but no one is driving from Los Angeles to Palestine or Kuwait or Jordan or Egypt, so the road trip element really gets lost in those sections. [[If you're enjoying this review, check out OffTheBeatenShelf.com]] That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the travel elements because I did! And I think the way Randa writes travel is brilliant because you learn a little about the landscape, the place, and the people who inhabit it, but you learn far more about the larger social context and implications of that landscape, place, and its people. Randa asks readers to consider whose land you’re on, how the place came to be what it is, and how the culture of the place affects the people who live there––both those who fit in seamlessly and those who defy cultural norms. Randa’s observations and insights about what she was seeing and experiencing on her travels were more interesting to me than the locations themselves, so I’d argue that the real road trip is through Randa’s mind. And that, I very much enjoyed. In some ways, this book broke my brain a little––and I mean that in the best, most necessary way. For one, this memoir completely changed the way I think about kink and BDSM. I’ve never heard anyone explain it in terms of the level of trust and unflinching consent that’s needed to do BDSM in a safe, non-assaulting, mutually pleasurable manner before. Hearing about how often permission is asked and the importance of clear communication and enthusiastic consent in the practice definitely removed a lot of the fear I had around BDSM in my mind. I hadn’t before realized that kink could be a safe way to reclaim one’s body by communicating one’s desires, but I think I get it now. [[If you're enjoying this review, check out OffTheBeatenShelf.com]] Another way Love Is an Ex-Country broke my brain was around race. Randa is the daughter of an Egyptian mother and a Palestinian father, so she’s half-Palestinian on the paternal side just like me. By nature of the Palestinian diaspora, we come in a lot of different colors. If you’ve ever seen me, I put the “palest” in Palestinian. I’m so white I’m practically translucent. Meanwhile, Randa identifies as a white-passing person of color, so since we’re both half-Palestinian, I was curious and googled her picture. She has more melanin than I do (I mean, who doesn’t?) and her hair is darker, though there’s not a huge difference in our coloring. It made me wonder for half a second if I’ve been a white-passing POC my whole life and just didn’t know it? I’ve never been discriminated against because of my skin color (because white privilege) so I’m personally uncomfortable identifying as anything other than white. That in itself didn’t break my brain as much as the implications race had on other aspects of the book. There’s a section where Randa talks about how it irks her to see white women belly dancing. Technically, because I’m Palestinian I can belly dance without being culturally appropriative. But it made me wonder if Randa saw me belly dancing if it’d irk her because I’m so pale, despite the fact that we have half an identity in common. Though I’m not a belly dancer, reading that section of the book has likely scared me off from ever doing it publicly because the last thing I want is for other Arabs to judge me for participating in an aspect of our shared culture just because I’m pale. It’s not my place to tell someone how they can or should identify, so I’m not questioning Randa’s choice to call herself a white-passing POC. That’s valid and what she feels comfortable with, so I’m all for it. I couldn’t help noticing, though, that there are instances in the book where she wields whiteness as a protective charm and instances where she vehemently eschews whiteness. For example, she describes two different encounters with police––one in which she uses whiteness in an attempt to get out of a speeding ticket and another where a cop notes her race as white on a form and he doesn’t listen when she tries to correct him, which incenses her. Reading these two sections, in particular, made me think more about how race is a social construct and how most people don’t get to choose how they’re perceived. Though if one does occupy that liminal space between races where perception is questioned, agency matters. In terms of agency and self-determination, it matters that one is able to identify as they feel most accurately describes themselves and their experiences. However, in terms of how one is perceived, (i.e., how whiteness functions in practicality in a given situation) does Randa identifying as POC keep her from experiencing the benefits of white privilege? If others perceive her as white, then wouldn’t she benefit from white privilege regardless of how she identifies? I would’ve loved to have seen more discussion around this because it’s fascinating and obviously got me thinking. [[If you're enjoying this review, check out OffTheBeatenShelf.com]] I struggle to review memoirs because I always feel like I’m reviewing the person and that any element I deem worthy of criticism comes across as an attack on the author. And as an editor, I can’t help considering whether the final form of the book feels done to me. Would I change anything if I were the editor? In this case, yes; namely around the elements I’ve discussed here. In the end, though, what gets a book five stars from me is one (or both) of two things: is the book quotable and/or did it make me cry. No tears here, though my copy of Love Is an Ex-Country is full of highlights. Between Randa’s melodic prose and witty observations, she’s damn quotable. I recognize that while this book is meaningful to me for a lot of different reasons you no doubt picked up on in this review, I can understand that it might not be as meaningful to other people in the same deeply personal way that it is to me. Love Is an Ex-Country gets five stars in my book, though the average person might lean more toward 3.5 stars. Either way, I highly recommend it and think it would make for an especially interesting book club discussion. [[If you enjoyed this review, check out OffTheBeatenShelf.com]]

  13. 5 out of 5

    Althea

    2.5/5 Stars rounded up This book wasn't for me and that's okay! First up I think the synopsis is a bit misleading - there is very little 'road-tripping' or travelling going on in this book so I was slightly disappointed by that but I do love a good memoir so I kept reading. Overall I had an okay time while reading this - granted, I don't think I'm the target audience - and I really do see the books merits, hence why I rounded my rating up. However, the book is very disjointed and felt a wee bit a 2.5/5 Stars rounded up This book wasn't for me and that's okay! First up I think the synopsis is a bit misleading - there is very little 'road-tripping' or travelling going on in this book so I was slightly disappointed by that but I do love a good memoir so I kept reading. Overall I had an okay time while reading this - granted, I don't think I'm the target audience - and I really do see the books merits, hence why I rounded my rating up. However, the book is very disjointed and felt a wee bit all over the place which isn't really what I like in my memoirs. I liked the author's writing style a lot, it was conversational and at times moving and others funny. But some parts just felt a little strange, particularly the part when the author compares Thumbelina and Tinker Bell to visual representations of clitorises, which definitely made me feel a bit uncomfortable (they're children's characters....). Nevertheless, I do recommend picking this up if it seems up your alley because it is a very emotional and powerful read! Thanks to Netgalley and Catapult for an e-ARC in return for an honest review!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Areeb Ahmad (Bankrupt_Bookworm)

    I expected this to be good ofc but I didn't expect it to be so good. Bold, brave, profound, and provocative. Definitely looking forward to reading more of Jarrar. RTC. I expected this to be good ofc but I didn't expect it to be so good. Bold, brave, profound, and provocative. Definitely looking forward to reading more of Jarrar. RTC.

  15. 5 out of 5

    xTx xTx

    wow. what an honest, heart-wrenching, sexy as fuck book. Randa opens her chest and shows us everything inside in a bold, unapologetic, warm, loving, thoughtful, sexy way. Letting us inside her struggles of family, self, body, sex, womanhood, sexuality, abuse, power, position, country, and identity. Written so beautifully and easy, comfortable and also soft and strong. Love loved it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Seema Yasmin

    I have been waiting for this book for years; literally since I finished reading Jarrar's book of short stories. I read and re-read that collection and have been needing to read whatever Jarrar wrote next. This is a stunning memoir that meanders through motherhood and queerness, friendships and family, intimate partner violence, and the many paths to healing from trauma. Thsi memoir is evocative, stunning, and moving, and it was definitely worth the wait. I have been waiting for this book for years; literally since I finished reading Jarrar's book of short stories. I read and re-read that collection and have been needing to read whatever Jarrar wrote next. This is a stunning memoir that meanders through motherhood and queerness, friendships and family, intimate partner violence, and the many paths to healing from trauma. Thsi memoir is evocative, stunning, and moving, and it was definitely worth the wait.

  17. 5 out of 5

    فراس

    a truly beautiful, magical, generous, and loving book. Love is an Ex Country is a gorgeous work of art that is lush with life. i love the joyful, playful, and rebellious spirit to this book. Randa Jarrar succeeds in every way possible with this expansive memoir. through chronicling their journey in an ex country, Jarrar delves into the many ways that violence invades peoples' lives, patriarchal, colonial, white supremacy, state apparatus, etc. Jarrar writes to expose some of the traps and tactics a truly beautiful, magical, generous, and loving book. Love is an Ex Country is a gorgeous work of art that is lush with life. i love the joyful, playful, and rebellious spirit to this book. Randa Jarrar succeeds in every way possible with this expansive memoir. through chronicling their journey in an ex country, Jarrar delves into the many ways that violence invades peoples' lives, patriarchal, colonial, white supremacy, state apparatus, etc. Jarrar writes to expose some of the traps and tactics employed against those who live outside of these power structures: silence, erasure, willful amnesia, rendering entire populations invisible. i love how she brought in all her communities to the page. Jarrar is a master storyteller and writer. Her book is a necessary corrective for our times.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Leah Rachel von Essen

    Love Is an Ex-Country is a memoir by Randa Jarrar, a fat, queer Muslim-American woman. She writes about the abusive relationships she's endured, the kink she learned to love with its ingrained rules of consent, the experience of being Muslim and white-passing in the US, the experience of being Palestinian. She writes, too, of her complicated relationship with her physically and emotionally abusive father, and its traumas and after-effects. It's an excellent memoir on many counts. Jarrar is honest Love Is an Ex-Country is a memoir by Randa Jarrar, a fat, queer Muslim-American woman. She writes about the abusive relationships she's endured, the kink she learned to love with its ingrained rules of consent, the experience of being Muslim and white-passing in the US, the experience of being Palestinian. She writes, too, of her complicated relationship with her physically and emotionally abusive father, and its traumas and after-effects. It's an excellent memoir on many counts. Jarrar is honest, raw, sultry, and takes no shit. Some of the essays feel a bit scattered; I think that's because this rests somewhere between essays (many of which were published elsewhere) and a true memoir, united, and that disjointedness occasionally shows in moments of repetition or confusion of details. Some of the early chapters were less put-together than many of the later ones, and so it took me a while to truly get into this book, but once I did, it was an impactful and enjoyable roller coaster. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Love Is an Ex-Country comes out from Catapult on February 2. Content warnings for physical domestic abuse and violence, for sexual assault, for manipulation and abusive relationships. (These warnings are not meant to be comprehensive, and I encourage you to do your own research if you have specific concerns.)

  19. 4 out of 5

    River

    Randa Jarrar covers a lot of ground in this book, and she does so in an upfront, humorous, and unashamed way. While I admire her attitude, this really didn’t work for me overall. I went into Love Is an Ex-Country expecting a reflective travel story tackling internal struggles, and maybe that was my misunderstanding, but is definitely not how I would describe this book. The writing is blunt and moves through events at a plodding pace, and the messages she conveys are often delivered as a triumpha Randa Jarrar covers a lot of ground in this book, and she does so in an upfront, humorous, and unashamed way. While I admire her attitude, this really didn’t work for me overall. I went into Love Is an Ex-Country expecting a reflective travel story tackling internal struggles, and maybe that was my misunderstanding, but is definitely not how I would describe this book. The writing is blunt and moves through events at a plodding pace, and the messages she conveys are often delivered as a triumphant single sentence to cap things off. Sexual content is rarely an issue for me in books, but describing Tinker Bell and Thumbelina as “queer, visual representations of clitorises” is a bit much for me. It’s just not for me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dylan Miller

    Though Jarrar's work is brief, as far as memoirs go, each word feels perfectly crafted to tell her story and send the messages she desires. Love Is an Ex-Country had me laughing, visualizing Jarrar's experiences, and feeling the weight of life all in one. I'm going to be recommending this to pretty much everyone. Though Jarrar's work is brief, as far as memoirs go, each word feels perfectly crafted to tell her story and send the messages she desires. Love Is an Ex-Country had me laughing, visualizing Jarrar's experiences, and feeling the weight of life all in one. I'm going to be recommending this to pretty much everyone.

  21. 4 out of 5

    S Cearley

    An incredible book. I'm stumped for words, honestly. There are obvious things I could say, such as "It's as much a travelogue as 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' is" but this book deserves no comparison. Is Randa Jarrar in a class all her own? No. But it sure don't take long to call roll. Love Is An Ex-Country is more experimental than previous works, which will also make some readers feel uneasy. This book is marking out a safe space for the story, and that story is harsh, rough, joyous, and ali An incredible book. I'm stumped for words, honestly. There are obvious things I could say, such as "It's as much a travelogue as 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' is" but this book deserves no comparison. Is Randa Jarrar in a class all her own? No. But it sure don't take long to call roll. Love Is An Ex-Country is more experimental than previous works, which will also make some readers feel uneasy. This book is marking out a safe space for the story, and that story is harsh, rough, joyous, and alive. It's a tale of surviving and understanding the difference between what is supposed to be safe, and nurturing, and what truly is safe and nurturing. The consent. There is a substantial amount of sex in the book, and it's not exactly obvious from the cover (it is mentioned briefly on the inside front flap of the hardback), so I can understand why some might be overwhelmed by it. But it honestly is necessary. An understanding of bodily dominion, what it means to own your -self- at all stages and places in your life, cannot be had without going into sexuality. So let that be your warning/guarantee: there is sex and violence. Sorry it's not a Marvel movie that makes it palatable. It is a real life hero's journey.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I read the description before I requested this book. Honest, I did. It said it was about a road trip. Well, shame on me for quite literally expecting a road trip. The book started by talking about a woman who'd travelled solo through Egypt many years ago. I was still expecting a road trip, but now I was expecting an exotic one. I love a good travelogue. Boy (or girl or some non-binary term) was I wrong. Perhaps if I was American, I'd have known who Randa Jarrar is. I had to google her and read abo I read the description before I requested this book. Honest, I did. It said it was about a road trip. Well, shame on me for quite literally expecting a road trip. The book started by talking about a woman who'd travelled solo through Egypt many years ago. I was still expecting a road trip, but now I was expecting an exotic one. I love a good travelogue. Boy (or girl or some non-binary term) was I wrong. Perhaps if I was American, I'd have known who Randa Jarrar is. I had to google her and read about the controversy she caused by tweeting about Barbara Bush. Honestly, flash in the pan sort of stuff. Anybody can accidentally or intentionally be famous for Andy Warhol's 15 minutes with a well crafted offensive tweet about politicians and their entourage these days. So my big mistakes: 1. expecting a road trip; 2. not knowing who Randa Jarrar is. I found the book quite well written and I blessed it for only being 240 pages. As an account of a confused but abusive childhood and a tale of repeatedly picking the wrong men who indulged in controlling sexual relationships, it's interesting. But I am left asking myself a lot of questions that I'm not sure I want to think about too much around why women who've been abused then willingly get into consensually abusive acts later in life. The BDSM stuff leaves me cold (at best) and slightly queasy (at worst). Too much of the book seems to be about trying to shock people. I'm 55. I'm old and 'vanilla' as the author would say. I really wish this had been a fascinating account of a trip alone across a Muslim country. I'd have settled for a road trip around America that was ACTUALLY a road trip. Instead, this is memoir, autobiography, rambling essays recycled from elsewhere and I want to slap (non-consensually) the person who promoted this as something it wasn't. Jarrar is up front, unashamedly everything she is, happy to shove her life in your face. Does she approve of the mis-promotion of her book? Wouldn't she have written a promotional blurb full of lots of sex in every colour and flavour under the sun? If you know and like her, read this book. If you haven't the slightest idea who she is (note to self - fame is very localised even in this globally connected world) and you don't like reading about people justifying consensual or non-consensual violence, then stay away. If you're hoping for a female Muslim Michale Palin travelogue, keep on moving down the bus. Nothing to see here. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for an ARC. I'm sure the book will find a cult audience but I won't be in it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Misse Jones

    “And I also write what I like. And say what I like. And fuck whomever I like.” Randa Jarrar’s memoir, Love Is An Ex-Country, is an overwhelming and brutally honest account of her recollections of life, complete with the joys, bumps, and bruises of any road trip. Her struggles with family, identity, sexuality, artistry, politics and how she’s come to understand them are explicitly explored. Not for the faint of heart, but certainly a very necessary story. 3.75 stars! Thanks to NetGalley and Catapul “And I also write what I like. And say what I like. And fuck whomever I like.” Randa Jarrar’s memoir, Love Is An Ex-Country, is an overwhelming and brutally honest account of her recollections of life, complete with the joys, bumps, and bruises of any road trip. Her struggles with family, identity, sexuality, artistry, politics and how she’s come to understand them are explicitly explored. Not for the faint of heart, but certainly a very necessary story. 3.75 stars! Thanks to NetGalley and Catapult for gifting this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Publication Date: February 2, 2021

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    Love is An Ex-Country is a memoir that loosely follows a cross-country road trip, but along the way gives insight to trauma in early life, surviving abuse in relationships, experiences of young motherhood, and claiming sexuality. Once of the most unique aspects of this book is its structure: written in vignettes within each chapter that shifts in time—-a moment on the road connecting to her research, leading to a moment of childhood—-a cyclical style of writing that mimics memory and highlights Love is An Ex-Country is a memoir that loosely follows a cross-country road trip, but along the way gives insight to trauma in early life, surviving abuse in relationships, experiences of young motherhood, and claiming sexuality. Once of the most unique aspects of this book is its structure: written in vignettes within each chapter that shifts in time—-a moment on the road connecting to her research, leading to a moment of childhood—-a cyclical style of writing that mimics memory and highlights the often fractured narratives women of color live in the pursuit of their agency. She places the reader at the center of her intersections, Arab/woman/queer, and shows us the ways she is never allowed to forget. She writes: “It is to be reminded in your bones, your muscles, and the twisted strands of your DNA, every moment of every day, of war, of fear, of explosion, of discrimination, of others’ fear, dehumanization, and murder, of you and of people like you.” As Jarrar turns her care to herself rather than others, she pulls back the curtain so many WOC allow to blind their vision—the burdens that cultural norms, womanhood, motherhood, submissiveness can be. She brings each of these lessons in glaring light, not afraid of brashness in the effort to tell the truth, claim it, and be able to move forward. She refuses to shrink into any prescribed notion of who she should be, in person or in writing, the freedom of which is celebrated in her sexual expression. Through BDSM and kink, Jarrar reveals the glory in mutual consent, how the articulation of boundaries, desires and fears breaks down the binaries we construct ourselves with. She describes the ownership of her body, the power to “feel every moment and be in the present completely.” This shift in perspective celebrates the joy in physical exploration so many women don’t allow themselves because imposed roles and patriarchal rule.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Bacigalupo

    The Harper's Baazar article on Jarrar's book said it best: This memoir is deeply literary, but she breathes new and hilarious life into what I thought was possible when writing about being an immigrant, an Arab-American, a daughter, a mother, a lover, a traveler, and most of all, a body—or, as she puts it, a “queer fat body.” https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture... The Harper's Baazar article on Jarrar's book said it best: This memoir is deeply literary, but she breathes new and hilarious life into what I thought was possible when writing about being an immigrant, an Arab-American, a daughter, a mother, a lover, a traveler, and most of all, a body—or, as she puts it, a “queer fat body.” https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sanjida

    It takes a lot of skill to write a memoir that doesn't sound like self-important drivel. Are your thoughts really profound enough to subject to others? Are you able to make a stranger care about your story? This collection is uneven, disjointed, and didn't work for me on either count. Multiple ambivalent reviews of this book on Goodreads mention, apologetically, that they may not be the target audience. But who is the target audience? Maybe it's me - I share a few biographical traits with Jarrar It takes a lot of skill to write a memoir that doesn't sound like self-important drivel. Are your thoughts really profound enough to subject to others? Are you able to make a stranger care about your story? This collection is uneven, disjointed, and didn't work for me on either count. Multiple ambivalent reviews of this book on Goodreads mention, apologetically, that they may not be the target audience. But who is the target audience? Maybe it's me - I share a few biographical traits with Jarrar - but I don't care for her writing either. Sigh.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    3.5 stars. Love Is an Ex-Country is a memoir and essay collection that pulls no punches. While Jarrar's recalls her past traumas in short bursts, there's no sugarcoating the extensive physical and mental abuse she has endured throughout time. This is not the sole focus of this book, though: this collection is also both an exploration and a celebration of what being an Arab American means to Jarrar, as well as a contrast of what being Arab means to others. It's a testament to growing up on the mo 3.5 stars. Love Is an Ex-Country is a memoir and essay collection that pulls no punches. While Jarrar's recalls her past traumas in short bursts, there's no sugarcoating the extensive physical and mental abuse she has endured throughout time. This is not the sole focus of this book, though: this collection is also both an exploration and a celebration of what being an Arab American means to Jarrar, as well as a contrast of what being Arab means to others. It's a testament to growing up on the move, without a true hometown, and so much more. Whether or not Love Is an Ex-Country introduces you to identity and societal concepts you may or may not be familiar with, it's certainly going to take you aback and think about intersectionality and how it affects your own worldview.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    Fascinating and raw. I wasn’t a huge fan of the organization, but definitely felt the content and writing was great.

  29. 4 out of 5

    fridayinapril

    "America is an amnesiac. To be a woman in America, a mother, and a descendent of North Africans and West Asians is to be the opposite of an amnesiac. It is to be reminded in your bones, your muscles, and the twisted strands of your DNA, every moment of every day, of war, of fear, of expulsion, of discrimination, and of others’ fear, dehumanization, and murder, of you and of people like you." • This book is a whirlwind of events peppered with moments of deep introspection and reflection. Jarrar is "America is an amnesiac. To be a woman in America, a mother, and a descendent of North Africans and West Asians is to be the opposite of an amnesiac. It is to be reminded in your bones, your muscles, and the twisted strands of your DNA, every moment of every day, of war, of fear, of expulsion, of discrimination, and of others’ fear, dehumanization, and murder, of you and of people like you." • This book is a whirlwind of events peppered with moments of deep introspection and reflection. Jarrar is at times funny and at times simply real. Her prose is both beautiful and sharp. In one of the chapters, she mentions someone sheherazading her and I sort of felt like she was doing the same. Each chapter of her road trip reads almost like a photograph of her life at that moment. She does not spare anyone. From immigration to racism and sexuality, she bares it all in the most vivid way. • I would say this book is quite provocative to my absolute delight, however, it is not for the faint of heart, nor the squeamish. You have to brace for it. It is vivid, vibrant and oh so powerful. She is unapologetically bold and shocking. You will love her for it. • ~ #fridayinaprilbookreviews • I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to @netgalley and @sandstonepress for this eARC.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    LOVE IS AN EX-COUNTRY is a powerful memoir by Randa Jarrar. At times funny and moving, this book is set against the backdrop of a cross-country round trip after the 2016 election. She writes about the intersection of her different identities: Muslim, Queer, Fat, Arab-American, Abuse Survivor. She describes her journey to acceptance highlighting important relationships and events in her life. Her father was abusive, both physically and emotionally. Her mother was complacent. Her boyfriend is abus LOVE IS AN EX-COUNTRY is a powerful memoir by Randa Jarrar. At times funny and moving, this book is set against the backdrop of a cross-country round trip after the 2016 election. She writes about the intersection of her different identities: Muslim, Queer, Fat, Arab-American, Abuse Survivor. She describes her journey to acceptance highlighting important relationships and events in her life. Her father was abusive, both physically and emotionally. Her mother was complacent. Her boyfriend is abusive and controlling, and leaves her once she has the child he did not want her to abort. The two areas which I found most interesting were her journey with her body acceptance and the complexity of her race and how she is perceived. She is a fat woman, and she discusses multiple instances where people are outright hostile to her, including her father. But she also talks about acceptance she has come to as she has gotten older, especially in the kink community, and the importance of consent (which she did not see in past relationships). And as for her ethnicity, she highlights discrepancies when she is identified as white (cop being nice to her after pulling her over for speeding), versus Arab-American (her landlord recommends she put up an American flag in her front yard). Jarrar deals with a lot of heavy topics with candor and wit, and I highly recommend this book. Thank you to NetGalley and Catapult for providing me with an advance reader copy for review.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.