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Book Talk: Fencing With the King | Diana Abu Jaber & Omar El Akkad

March 29 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Online, N/A, Portland, OR 97207

Please join the Middle East Studies Center for our next installment of the Scholarly Lecture Series. Author and Portland State University English Faculty Diana Abu Jaber will be discussing her new novel Fencing With the King with award-winning author Omar El Akkad.

Zoom Registration

About the Book

A mesmerizing breakthrough novel of family myths and inheritances by the award-winning author of Crescent. Amani is hooked on a mystery—a poem on airmail paper that slips out of one of her father’s books. It seems to have been written by her grandmother, a refugee who arrived in Jordan during the First World War. Soon the perfect occasion to investigate arises: her Uncle Hafez, an advisor to the King of Jordan, invites her father to celebrate the king’s sixtieth birthday—and to fence with the king, as in their youth. Her father has avoided returning to his homeland for decades, but Amani persuades him to come with her. Uncle Hafez will make their time in Jordan complicated—and dangerous—after Amani discovers a missing relative and is launched into a journey of loss, history, and, eventually, a fight for her own life. Fencing with the King masterfully draws on King Lear and Arthurian fable to explore the power of inheritance, the trauma of displacement, and whether we can release the past to build a future.

Ready more at Publisher’s Weekly.

Book Publication Date: March 15, 2022 | Book Website

Available for Preorder:


Annie Blooms

Broadway Books

Two Rivers Books

Physical copies already available at the PSU Bookstore NOW but also available online!

About the Speakers

Raised between Syracuse, NY and Amman Jordan, Diana Abu-Jaber often writes about cultural identity. Her latest work, Fencing With the King, a novel of Middle Eastern intrigue and adventure, will be published in March 2022 from W.W. Norton. Apple books and The Millions have both included it as one of this spring’s most-anticipated novels. Her most recent novel, Silverworld, a fantasy with an Arab-American girl at its heart, was published last spring from Crown Books / Random House. Her award-winning novels include Silverworld; Birds of Paradise; Origin; Crescent; and Arabian Jazz. Her memoir, Life Without A Recipe, was described by Ruth Reichl as “bold and luscious.” The Language of Baklava, her first memoir has been translated into over twenty languages and taught around the world. Diana teaches at Portland State University and lives with her family in Portland and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Omar El Akkad is an author and journalist. He was born in Egypt, grew up in Qatar, moved to Canada as a teenager and now lives in the United States. The start of his journalism career coincided with the start of the war on terror, and over the following decade he reported from Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and many other locations around the world. His fiction and non-fiction writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Guernica, GQ and many other newspapers and magazines. His debut novel, American War, is an international bestseller and has been translated into thirteen languages. His new novel, What Strange Paradise, was released in July, 2021 and was named Best Book of the Year by the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR and several other publications.



Portland, OR 97207


PSU Middle East Studies Center
View Organizer Website