Arabian Jazz

What does Arabian Jazz show the reader about the immigrant experience, in particular the Arab immigrant experience, in the United States? What are the challenges that immigrants and their American-born offspring face in the United States?

Arabian Jazz is a story depicting the Jordan immigrant experience and their struggle to cope with cultural conflict in America. Jemorah and Melvina, the second generation in the story are American born who are half Jordan and half Irish American trapped in the ‘in between’ issues. Are they Arab? Are they American? They don’t feel a strong bond towards the Jordan culture but on the other hand, the American society don’t perceive them as truly American. Through out the story we follow their conflict in finding identity.

Marriage and class is also an issue that this story tries to deliver. Should the girls follow and be ‘good’ obeying Jordan girls and marry Jordan men? Should they even have to marry at all? If yes to whom? To an Arab or to their American lovers? As with the main characters in this story, the American society (characters) depicted in this story are those from the middle and lower class. In a bigger perspective, this story shows how (like an immigrant in an American society) the lower class people regardless of what their nationality are, can also be an outcast in their society.The first generation in this story discovers how hard it is to try to maintain their motherland culture. The father—Matussem is an interesting character in my opinion. After living for so many years in America, later on he couldn’t find himself quite at ‘home’ in his motherland—Jordan. The American society will always see him and his family as an outcast. His passion in his Jazz music can be seen as his way of finding ‘home’. His Jazz music is his true identity.

At some parts, I could not thoroughly enjoy the story. I found some parts of the book to be draggy and dull. I see some of the characters kind of stereotypical. Another thing that is a turn off for me is the way the author writes which I found somehow dry and not engaging enough. Other than that, I still think the theme about cultural identity, marriage and music quite interesting. It just could have been written better in my opinion.

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