Shortlisted for the 2021 Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize
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. 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. Alzayat’s stories are rich and relatable, chronicling a sense of displacement through everyday scenarios. A haunting, spellbinding, and unforgettable collection that marks Dima Alzayat’s arrival as a tremendously gifted new talent.
I love the range of the stories here… I look forward to reading more from Alzayat ~ Roxanne Gay
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
Alligator and Other Stories by Dima Alzayat
In Alligator and Other Stories, Dima Alzayat captures luminously how it feels to be ‘other’: as a Syrian, as an Arab, as an immigrant, as a woman. Each one of the nine stories collected here is a snapshot of those moments when unusual circumstances suddenly distinguish us from our neighbours, when our difference is thrown into relief.
Here are ‘dangerous’ women transgressing, missing children in 1970s New York, a family who were once Syrian but have now lost their name, and a young woman about to discover the hollowness of the American dream. At its centre lies ‘Alligator’: a remarkable compilation of real and invented sources, which rescues from history the story of a Syrian American couple who were murdered at the hands of the state.
Alzayat explores experiences that are startling and real, delivering an emotional punch that lingers long after reading.