Thursday, September 17, 2009

Randa Jarrar's "A Map of Home"

Randa Jarrar is a novelist, short story writer, and translator. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, A Map of Home, won the 2009 Arab American Book Award, as well as the Hopwood and Geoffrey James Gosling Awards at the University of Michigan, where she received her MFA. Jarrar grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, and moved to the US after the first Gulf War. At the age of 13, she enrolled in 10th grade, and went on to attend Sarah Lawrence College at 16. Two years later, she became a single mom, and by the age of 22, she had a Masters’ degree and a four- year-old. She began A Map of Home at the age of 23, writing the bulk of it in a trailer in small-town Texas.

Here she shares her preferences for the main cast and director of a big screen adaptation of her novel:
I've been told my novel is cinematic. The characters are all larger-than-life crazies who move big, talk big, and live big.

In the role of Nidali, the sassy talking main character, I see Alia Shawkat, who was Maeby in Arrested Development. She has perfect comic timing, is absolutely stunning, and I can see her swearing left and right.

Baba would be played by- who else?- Tony Shalhoub. A natural comic genius and endearing soul, he would make the perfect conflicted Arab father, a poet and a tyrant. He would make me cry up on screen.

And for Mama, there is no one but Kathy Najimy. She looks Egyptian-Palestinian, is fabulous and sassy, would look gorgeous at a piano, and is the funniest woman on screen.

The director would be the talented and beautiful Cherien Dabis. She is my hero. She has worked on The L Word and directed shorts and most recently, Amreeka, a funny story about an Arab-American single mom. I can relate.

It would be shot in Texas, even the scenes in Kuwait and Alexandria, Egypt. We could take a stretch of West TX desert and shoot there, and use a winter Corpus Christi for the Egypt scenes, since it's in a beach town in the winter.

I can see it already.
Learn more about the author and her work at Randa Jarrar's website.

--Marshal Zeringue