April Book Club - Fencing with the King

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April 16th, 2023 at 10am


April's Book Club Pick:

Fencing with the King

by Diana Abu-Jaber


The King of Jordan is turning 60! How better to celebrate the occasion than with his favorite pastime--fencing--and with his favorite sparring partner, Gabriel Hamdan, who must be enticed back from America, where he lives with his wife and his daughter, Amani.

Amani, a divorced poet, jumps at the chance to accompany her father to his homeland for the King's birthday. Her father's past is a mystery to her--even more so since she found a poem on blue airmail paper slipped into one of his old Arabic books, written by his mother, a Palestinian refugee who arrived in Jordan during World War I. Her words hint at a long-kept family secret, carefully guarded by Uncle Hafez, an advisor to the King, who has quite personal reasons for inviting his brother to the birthday party. In a sibling rivalry that carries ancient echoes, the Hamdan brothers must face a reckoning, with themselves and with each other--one that almost costs Amani her life.

With sharp insight into modern politics and family dynamics, taboos around mental illness, and our inescapable relationship to the past, Fencing with the King asks how we contend with inheritance: familial and cultural, hidden and openly contested. Shot through with warmth and vitality, intelligence and spirit, it is absorbing and satisfying on every level, a wise and rare literary treat.


"A delicate arabesque of intertwining family relationships, Fencing with the King probes the cost of exile and voluntary expatriation, asking: When is inheritance a blessing, and when is it merely a burden?"

--Geraldine Brooks, author of Horse

"[An] enthralling novel of Jordan's history, glory and authoritarian impulses, stratified class structure, and fraught family dynamics. (And fencing with King Hussein)"

--Elizabeth Taylor, co-author of American Pharaoh

Event date: 
Sunday, April 16, 2023 - 10:00am to 11:30am
Fencing with the King: A Novel By Diana Abu-Jaber Cover Image
We're sorry, this book is unavailable from our distributor.
ISBN: 9780393867718
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - March 15th, 2022