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Alligator and Other Stories

a story collection by
Dima Alzayat


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Dima Alzayat author of the story collection Alligator

"A stellar debut... Alzayat manages to execute a short but thoughtful meditation on the spectrum of race in America from Jackson’s presidency to present. Here and everywhere, Alligator is a collection about the power and limitations of empathy. An exciting debut collection exploring the local and global valences of trauma." 
—Colin Groundwater, GQ

"The richly detailed short fictions in this debut from a Damascus-born scribe form an intricate, breathtaking mosaic of modern Muslim life."
—Michelle Hart, O, The Oprah Magazine


Synopsis

The award-winning stories in Dima Alzayat’s collection are luminous and tender, whether dealing with a woman performing burial rites for her brother in “Ghusl,” or a great-aunt struggling to explain cultural identity to her niece in “Once We Were Syrians.”

Alzayat’s stories are rich and relatable, chronicling a sense of displacement through everyday scenarios. There is the intern in pre-#MeToo Hollywood of “Only Those Who Struggle Succeed,” the New York City children on the lookout for a place to play on the heels of Etan Patz’s kidnapping in “Disappearance,” and the “dangerous” women of “Daughters of Manāt” who struggle to assert their independence.

The title story, “Alligator,” is a masterpiece of historical reconstruction and intergenerational trauma, told in an epistolary format through social media posts, newspaper clippings, and testimonials, that starts with the true story of the lynching of a Syrian immigrant couple by law officers in small-town Florida. Placed in a wider context of U.S. racial violence, the extrajudicial deaths, and what happens to the couple’s children and their children’s children in the years after, challenges the demands of American assimilation and its limits.

Alligator and Other Stories is haunting, spellbinding, and unforgettable, while marking Dima Alzayat’s arrival as a tremendously gifted new talent.


Read an excerpt of the novel here:
The Adroit Journal, Issue 33: "A Girl in Three Acts"


COVER PHOTO: Jared Chambers. View more of the photographer's work here:
Website: jaredchambers.com 
Instagram: @jaredchambers 
Twitter: @jaredchambers

Alligator and Other Stories by Dima Alzayat Two Dollar Radio May 2020

Reviews

Scroll to bottom for Goodreads reviews.

"The richly detailed short fictions in this debut from a Damascus-born scribe form an intricate, breathtaking mosaic of modern Muslim life." 
—Michelle Hart, O, The Oprah Magazine, "28 of the Best Books to Transport You This Summer, Written By Women Around the World"

"Alligator contains several stories of breathtaking power, worth noting since the title story alone, based on the true story of a Syrian man lynched in Florida in 1929, is worth the price of several volumes. Dima Alzayat combines superb writing with razor-sharp imagination and focuses on social injustice, racial violence, and global immigration."
—Bethanne Patrick, LitHub

"In 'Alligator,' Alzayat tackles race and the police through an intricate collection of media... Her timely narrative gives the world pause. How far has America come with its race relations? How far has our faith in the police been shaken? Without judgement, Alzayat makes space to consider these and other questions."
—Short Story Book Club, SSBC Podcast: Dima Alzayat

"[Alligator and Other Stories is an] extraordinary debut collection of stories focused on identity, culture, trauma, independence and transformation."
—Karla Strand, Ms. Magazine, "May 2020 Reads for the Rest of Us"

"Alzayat’s slim, powerful debut collection showcases the author’s deep empathy and imagination in stories about grief, assimilation, and trauma... This intelligent collection is a force to be reckoned with."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A stellar debut... Alzayat manages to execute a short but thoughtful meditation on the spectrum of race in America from Jackson’s presidency to present. Here and everywhere, Alligator is a collection about the power and limitations of empathy. An exciting debut collection exploring the local and global valences of trauma."
—Colin Groundwater, GQ

"Startling, often shocking... brilliant."
—Eithne Farry, Daily Mail (UK)

"Every story in Alzayat’s collection feels startling and heartbreaking... these stories beg to be read and the characters listened to."
—Karla Mendez, The Book Slut

"Sardonic, monstrous, tender, these well-crafted tales show us circumstances that might be our own, and let us see them through the eyes of others."
The Sunday Times (UK)

"Each story displays a strong point of view and manages to be uniquely the author's own. The title piece references the true story of a Syrian immigrant lynched with the aid of law enforcement in a Florida town in 1929. Alzayat uses multiple voices from history in the form of diary entries, social media posts, and newspaper clippings, to tell both individual stories and a larger history of racial violence in the U.S. This method is ambitious and successfully creates a feeling greater than plot and character development... definitely signals a writer to watch."
—Kathy Sexton, Booklist

"Throughout its eight stories, Alzayat’s debut explores gender, family, intergenerational trauma, assimilation and race. Crucially, the stories evoke displacement in a variety of ways: as a Syrian, as an Arab, as an immigrant and as a woman."
—Layla Haidrani, GQ Middle East, "The Patient Pursuit of Nuance: Syrian-American author Dima Alzayat is the latest in a string of Arab and Middle Eastern female writers to present a more modern portrait of identity"

"This title story in the new collection Alligator and Other Stories, is a powerful collage of institutional racism and Alzayat’s informed imagination."
—Glen Young, Petoksey News

"Originality meets craft."
—Anne Enright, author of The Gathering

"Dima Alzayat scrys the past, spinning narratives that are ahead of our time. War, politics and power come clashing together in these inventive stories that flit between styles and perspectives with dexterity. Alzayat may be the first person to realize that our history is our own black mirror."
—Jacob Hoefer, Labyrinth Books (Princeton, NJ)

"The span of Alzayat’s range in just nine short stories is breathtaking and inspiring... Each story is so different, and yet there is a connecting thread of empathy that pulses throughout, giving the collection a heart that is, perhaps, bigger than this world deserves."
—Mallory Miller, Paperback Paris

"An astute observer of worlds both old and new, Alzayat listened hard to her elders, recognized inconsistencies and digs deep into uncomfortable no-go areas. She is a formidable new voice in understanding the complexities of race and identity."
—Malu Halasa, The Markas Review

"Alzayat’s debut story collection, Alligator, offers us a window into the lives of those alienated by history, race, gender or cultural mores. Syria’s shadow hangs over the stories and many involve immigrants trying to assimilate in an unfamiliar culture. As Black Lives Matter dominates the news once again, her titular story ‘Alligator’ could not be timelier."
—Lucy Popescu,
The London Magazine

"In the deft and decisive hands of Dima Alzayat, Alligator's stories are nothing if not inextricable from one another, bonded together, better as their nine-story whole than as nine separate parts... And each story pushes the reader towards a slow dawning of realization about its moral core and meaning, a wave cresting that breaks just before the end and leaves emotional flotsam in its wake. Prepare to be tossed by Alligator's tide, and beware of what lurks just below the surface."
—Anna Weber, White Whale Bookstore (Pittsburgh, PA)

"Powerful short story collection written from different perspectives. The title story is a must-read!"
—Dave Lucey, Page 158 Books (Wake Forest, NC)

"Gloriously hypnotic. These charged, visceral stories get under the skin and stay there. This collection heralds the arrival of an electrifying new voice."
—Irenosen Okojie, author of Butterfly Fish and Speak Gigantular

"This is a wonderful collection, exceptional in fact. Its consideration of displacement and identity is so nuanced, intelligent and tender, and its modes of telling so dextrous, apt and beautiful. In Alligator and Other Stories, lives are captured with care and formidable compassion."
—Wendy Erskine, author of Sweet Home

“Alzayat’s compassion for her characters runs deep in this book. I especially can’t stop thinking about the title story—an original, heartbreaking and hypnotic collage.”
—Katya Apekina, author of The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish

"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. The title story, "Alligator," is an ambitious, original take on the history of racist violence in the United States. The range of voices and perspectives rendered with such authenticity in this collection is a major accomplishment. Together the stories form a patchwork of loss and grief that are unsentimental yet resonant."
—Dana Czapnik, author of The Falconer

"I found [Alligator] tremendously assured, wise-cracking and elegaic, with a firm pulse on the magical and mundane. I loved its 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

"Dima Alzayat's stories are nuanced, unusual and emotionally lacerating. Hers is a voice that is both vital and haunting."
—Stuart Evers, author of Your Father Sends His Love

"Alligator and Other Stories is heartfelt, heartbreaking and heart-mending. It's also razor sharp on the shifting layers of history, family, faith, gender, culture and language that make up that strange thing we call 'identity.' An important, necessary book."
—Jenn Ashworth, author of A Kind of Intimacy

Author

Dima Alzayat, author of Alligator and Other Stories

Dima Alzayat was born in Damascus, Syria, grew up in San Jose, California, and now lives in Manchester, U.K. She was the winner of a 2018 Northern Writers’ Award, the 2017 Bristol Short Story Prize and 2015 Bernice Slote Award, runner-up in the 2018 Deborah Rogers Award and the 2018 Zoetrope: All-Story Competition, and was Highly Commended in the 2013 Bridport Prize. Her stories have appeared in EsquirePrairie Schooner, Bristol Short Story Award Anthology, Bridport Prize Anthology, and Enizagam.

Visit the Dima Alzayat author page for additional details and interviews.

Sneak Peek

Enjoy a sneak peek of select pages from Alligator and Other Stories!

View Alligator and Other Stories sneak peek on Issuu.com
Alligator by Dima Alzayat sneak peek

info

FORMAT: Paperback, gatefold
LIST PRICE: $15.99
PAGES: 206
PRINT ISBN: 9781937512897
DIGITAL ISBN: 978-1-937512-90-3
RELEASE DATE: 5/29/2020
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"

Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Printed on Rolland Enviro. This paper contains 100% post-consumer fiber, is manufactured using renewable energy - Biogas and processed chlorine free.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).

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