An exciting debut novel that gives voice to the diverse residents of a Palestinian American community in Baltimore—from young activists in conflict with their traditional parents to the poor who clean for the rich—lives which intersect across divides of class, generation, and religion.
BEHIND YOU IS THE SEA
by Susan Muaddi Darraj
HarperVia, January 2024
Funny and touching, BEHIND YOU IS THE SEA brings us into the homes and lives of three main families—the Baladis, the Salamehs, and the Ammars—Palestinian immigrants who’ve all found a different welcome in America.
Their various fates and struggles cause their community dynamic to sizzle and sometimes explode: The wealthy Ammar family employs young Maysoon Baladi, whose own family struggles financially, to clean up after their spoiled teenagers. Meanwhile, Marcus Salameh confronts his father in an effort to protect his younger sister for “dishonoring” their name. Only a trip to Palestine, where Marcus experiences an unexpected and dramatic transformation, can bridge this seemingly unbridgeable divide between the two generations.
BEHIND YOU IS THE SEA faces stereotypes about Palestinian culture head-on and, shifting perspectives to weave a complex social fabric replete with weddings, funerals, broken hearts, and devastating secrets.
Susan Muaddi Darraj is the author of A Curious Land, a novel in stories which earned an American Book Award and was a finalist for a Palestine Book Award. In 2018, she was named a Ford Fellow by USA Artists. A past winner of the Maryland State Art Council’s Independent Artist Award, she is also the author of Farah Rocks, the first children’s book series to feature a Palestinian-American character. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and teaches at Johns Hopkins University.