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Book Cover for: Too Soon, Betty Shamieh

Too Soon

Betty Shamieh

For readers of Pachinko and Queenie, a funny, sexy, and heart-wrenching literary debut that explores exile, ambition, and hope across three generations of Palestinian American women.

Arabella gets an unexpected chance at love when she's thrust into a conflict and history she's tried to avoid all her life.

Zoya is playing matchmaker for her last unmarried granddaughter--introducing Arabella to the very eligible grandson of an old flame and stirring up buried family history.

Naya is keeping a secret from her family that will change all their lives.

Thirty-five-year-old Arabella, a New York theatre director whose dating and career prospects are drying up, is offered an opportunity to direct a risqué cross-dressing interpretation of a Shakespeare classic (that might garner international attention) in the West Bank. Her grandmother, Zoya, plots to make a match between her and Aziz, a Palestinian American doctor volunteering in Gaza. Arabella agrees to meet Aziz since her growing feelings for Yoav, a celebrated Israeli American theatre designer, seem destined for disaster.

Arabella and Aziz's instant connection reminds Zoya of the passion she once felt for Aziz's grandfather, a man she desired desperately, even after her father arranged another husband for her. In turn, Zoya would later marry off her youngest daughter, Naya, who aspired to date the Jackson 5 and wasn't ready to be a wife or mother to Arabella at sixteen. Now that Naya's children are grown and she's arrived at an abrupt midlife crossroads, it's time to settle old scores...

With biting hilarity, Too Soon introduces us to a trio of bold and unforgettable voices. This dramatic saga follows one family's epic journey from fleeing war-torn Jaffa in 1948, chasing the American Dream in Detroit and San Francisco in the sixties and seventies, hustling in the New York theatre scene post-9/11, and daring to stage a show in Palestine in 2012. Upon learning one of them is living on borrowed time, three women fight to live, make art, and love on their own terms. Too Soon joins the stories that seek to illuminate our shared history and ask, how can we set ourselves free?

Book Details

  • Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: Jan 28th, 2025
  • Pages: 320
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 9.00in - 6.00in - 0.83in - 1.13lb
  • EAN: 9781668046548
  • Categories: LiteraryWomenFeminist

About the Author

Shamieh, Betty: - Betty Shamieh (she/her) is a Palestinian American writer and the author of fifteen plays. She is the playwright-in-residence at the Classical Theatre of Harlem. Her six New York play premieres include the sold-out off-Broadway runs of Roar and Malvolio, a sequel to Twelfth Night, which were both New York Times Critic's Picks. Shamieh was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and named a UNESCO Young Artist for Intercultural Dialogue. She is a founding artistic director of The Semitic Root, a collective that supports innovative theatre cocreated by Arab and Jewish Americans. A graduate of Harvard College and the Yale School of Drama, she lives with her family in San Francisco.

Praise for this book

"Too Soon is a multi-generational tale of ambition, war, and reinvention. Its fierce and witty narrators are women, grandmother, mother, and daughter, struggling to plot lives and destinies beyond history's confines. History here is nations at war; history is embattled families; history is expecting wives and daughters to put marriage before art and duty before desire. Arabella, the granddaughter, is a theatre director who stages Shakespeare's tragedies as if they were comedies and vice versa. This is exactly what Shamieh does in this book. Simplicities disappear. New interpretations and intricacies emerge. A writer outwits the confines of history." --Margo Jefferson, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, author of Constructing a Nervous System
"Too Soon braids the lives of three passionate Palestinian women as they move through a turbulent century. From a sparkling harborside home in Jaffa in the forties, to the slums of Detroit in the sixties and the stages of contemporary New York theater, each generation must contend with patriarchy within her community and prejudice from outside it. A deft, honest novel that refuses to shun complexity as it explores the costs of love and motherhood." --Geraldine Brooks, Pulitzer Prize-winning author
"An unpredictable and expansive novel of history's intimate grip on the present. Three generations of Palestinian women fight for their lives, passions, and talents while facing exile, male power, and a corrupt art world. They each strategize survival in specific and recognizable ways, stretching the possible. Betty Shamieh's characters are real-to-life complex individuals who will keep readers surprised and moved. A book that expands the range of American fiction." --Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show