Back to School
I spent a month at Yaddo Colony, in upstate New York, working on my new novel. The grounds were beautiful, but also filled with mosquitoes and ticks. Most of the time, I forgot to wear insect repellent. I swam in the pool that John Cheever built. I didn’t have to make a meal, scrub a sink, pick up the mail, or take out the trash. I walked alone. I missed my husband. I missed him so much I cried. I watched several news cycles from afar. (The Confederate flag came down. The Iran nuclear deal was signed. The Saudi government continued bombing Yemen, to almost universal indifference. The Syrian refugee crisis worsened. There was another mass shooting. Another case of police abuse. A clown decided to run for president.) I found that the world got by without my taking note of every piece of news, much less my commenting on it. I read a lot. I wrote a lot.
In July, I found out that The Moor’s Account had won the American Book Award and the Arab American Book Award, and that it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Reviews in the UK began to appear, including in The Guardian, The Independent, and The Financial Times.
This summer, I also published a personal essay about my grandmother’s good luck charm in The New York Times Magazine. In August, my review of Amitav Ghosh’s Flood of Fire, the final volume in his Ibis trilogy, appeared in The New York Times Book Review. I also took part in a Room for Debate forum on diversity in core humanities courses.
But all this was mostly white noise, as I spent the majority of my time working on my book. I’m trying to get as much done as I can before I have to resume teaching later this month. I will also be on the road in the fall, and you can find out more about my upcoming events here.