Award-winning Jordanian-American fiction writer and memoirist Diana Abu-Jaber will read from and sign copies of her latest novel "Birds of Paradise" (W.W. Norton) at 7 this evening at Talking Leaves Books, 3158 Main St. in Buffalo.
It is a story of an upper-middle class Miami family torn apart by career choices and the ethical questions raised by their differing business and professional interests. The protagonist of "Birds of Paradise" is the family's runaway teenage daughter Felice, a young woman who drifts on the periphery of Miami's glamorous life, while risking homelessness and victimization in her own lifestyle. How this particular contemporary family reconciles -- set against the background and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's pre-New Orleans strike on South Florida in August 2005 -- displays Abu-Jaber's ability to create vivid characters and place them in a meaningful social context.
Abu-Jaber's novel “Crescent” won the 2004 PEN Center USA Award for Literary Fiction and an American Book Award. Her 2005 memoir, "The Language of Baklava," won the Northwest Booksellers Award and was a finalist for the James Beard Award for food-related writing.
A native of Syracuse who spent a portion of her childhood in Amman, Jordan, she was educated at the State University of New York at Oswego, the University of Windsor (Canada), and earned her Ph.D in English and Creative Writing at the University of Binghamton. She is now writer-in-residence at Portland State University in Washington and splits her time between Portland and Miami.