Diana Abu-Jaber was born in Syracuse to an American mother and a Jordanian father. When she was seven, her family moved to Jordan for two years, and she has lived between the US and Jordan ever since. Life was a constant juggling act, acting Arab at home but American in the street. The struggle to make sense of this sort of hybrid life, or “in-betweenness,” permeates Abu-Jaber’s fiction.
Her first novel, Arabian Jazz—considered by many to be the first mainstream Arab-American novel—won the 1994 Oregon Book Award. Jean Grant of The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs wrote, “Abu-Jaber’s novel will probably do more to convince readers to abandon what media analyst Jack Shaheen calls America’s ‘abhorrence of the Arab’ than any number of speeches or publicity gambits.”