Randa Jarrar

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Randa Jarrar
Born Chicago, US
Language English
Nationality Palestinian-American
Alma mater University of Michigan,
Sarah Lawrence College
Notable works "A Map of Home", "Why I Can't Stand White Belly Dancers"

Randa Jarrar (born 1978) is a Palestinian-American writer and translator. Her first novel, the coming-of-age story A Map of Home (2008), won her the Hopwood Award, and an Arab-American Book Award. Since then she has published short stories, essays, and the collection, Him, Me, Muhammad Ali (2016). She teaches creative writing in an MFA program in Fresno.[1]


Randa Jarrar was born in 1978 in Chicago to an Egyptian & Greek mother and a Palestinian father. She grew up in Kuwait and Egypt. After the Gulf War in 1991, her family moved back to the US, living in the New York area when she was 13.[2] Jarrar studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College, received MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan. She has taught College Writing, Creative Writing, and Arab-American literature.

Jarrar spends her days teaching creative writing to both graduates and undergraduates. "It's a majority minority school," she describes. "Many of my undergraduates are brown: Latinos, Asian Americans, Muslim Americans. They're first generation college students. Or they're children of migrant workers. Or they work full time, and parent."[3]

Literary work[edit]


Jarrar wrote an opinion piece called, Why I Can't Stand White Belly-Dancers which was published in Salon, 2014. In this piece, Jarrar said she felt that white women who take part in the art of bellydance are engaging in cultural appropriation and "brown face."[4] Many bellydancers and nonbellydancers alike were outraged by her statement, including UCLA professor Eugene Volokh.[5] Novelist and comics writer G. Willow Wilson wrote in defense of Jarrar, "When you shimmy around a stage in a hip band and call yourself Aliya Selim and receive praise and encouragement, while the real Aliya Selims are shortening their names to Ally and wondering if their accent is too strong to land that job interview, if the boss will look askance at their headscarf, if the kids at school are going to make fun of their children, guess what: you are exercising considerable privilege."[6] Jarrar wrote a follow-up to her piece, titled "I Still Can't Stand White Bellydancers."[7]


  • 2004 Million Writers Award for best short story online [8]
  • 2007 Hopwood Award for Best Novel[9]
  • 2008 Chamberlain Prize
  • 2009 Arab American Book Award
  • 2010 Beirut 39 (Best 39 writers of Arab origin under 40)
  • 2015 Lannan Foundation [10]
  • 2016 Story Prize Spotlight Award [11]


  • Words Without Borders: The World Through the Eyes of Writers, Alane Salierno Mason, Dedi Felman, Samantha Schnee (eds), Anchor Books, March 2007, ISBN 9781400079759
  • Beirut39 Bloomsbury 2010
  • Watchlist: 32 short stories by persons of interes O/R Books 2016 ISBN 9781936787418
  • The Year Of The Revolutionary New Bread-making Machine by Hassan Daoud, 2007. ISBN 9781846590269, Published by Telegram, Paperback
  • Jo Glanville, ed. (2006). Qissat: short stories by Palestinian women. Telegram. ISBN 9781846590122. 


  1. ^ "fixed-width_1B". www.fresnostate.edu. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  2. ^ "Randa Jarrar | Penguin Random House". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved 2015-08-06. 
  3. ^ http://imeu.org/article/randa-jarrar-author-and-professor.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Why I can't stand white belly dancers". Retrieved 2015-08-20. 
  5. ^ http://www.colorlines.com/articles/icymi-belly-dancing-when-youre-white-woman
  6. ^ Buchanan, Matthew. "In Defense (Sort Of) Of Randa Jarrar". gwillowwilson.com. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  7. ^ "I still can't stand white belly dancers". Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  8. ^ "storySouth Million Writers Award". www.storysouth.com. Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  9. ^ Lsa.umich.edu
  10. ^ "Randa Jarrar - Lannan Foundation". www.lannan.org. Retrieved 2015-09-30. 
  11. ^ "Spotlight Award Winner". The Story Prize. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 

External links[edit]