Out on 28 May 2020

Alligator and Other Stories

Dima Alzayat

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28 May 2020
224 pages

In Alligator and Other Stories, Dima Alzayat captures luminously the many ways of feeling displaced: as a Syrian, as an Arab, as an immigrant, as a woman. Often told through the lens everyday scenarios, her stories are rich, relatable, and full of nuance. Each story is a snapshot of those moments when unusual circumstances suddenly distinguish us from our neighbours, throw into relief the fact that we are ‘other’.

There are ‘dangerous’ women transgressing in ‘Daughters of Manat’, and ‘A Girl in Three Acts’; In ‘Only Those Who Struggle Succeed’ a young woman will let nothing stand in the way of career success, only to discover the boulder that others have placed in her path; in ‘Ghusl’, a young woman carefully washes her brother’s body as she prepares him for burial and looks back on their childhood together; ‘Disappearance’ loosens the boundaries of diaspora or immigrant stories, and features protagonists whose ethnicity is neither central nor vital; and ‘Alligator’, the centrepiece that connects the thematic threads running throughout this book, is an incredible work: a compilation of first-person accounts, newspaper clippings, letters, real and fictionalized historical and legal documents, scripts and social-media posts, which tell the story of a Syrian-American couple killed by their town’s police department and a vigilante lynch mob.

Each of these stories is startling and real, but delivers an emotional punch that lingers long after reading.

Tremendously assured, wise-cracking and elegiac, with a firm pulse on the magical and mundane. I loved it’s hard-edged lyricism and the tremendous empathetic range and distinctiveness of vision that Dima Alzayat demonstrates in this wonderful collection that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt caught between cultures, places and the interstices of memory and the loaded everyday.

Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti

Utterly mesmeric. Explores what it means to be other with such verve, nuance and specificity.

Irenosen Okojie on 'Once We Were Syrians'

In the debut short story collection Alligator, author Dima Alzayat proves herself an incredible literary chameleon, writing across history, nationality, gender and age with deep nuance and empathy.

Dana Czapnik, author of The Falconer