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Arab Americans

Laila Halaby

Laila Halaby

I was born in Beirut to a Jordanian father and an American mother. I grew up mostly in Arizona,
have traveled a fair amount, and have lived for bits of time on the East and West Coasts, the
Midwest, and in Jordan and Italy. My education includes an undergraduate degree in Italian and
Arabic, and two Masters degrees, in Arabic Literature and in Counseling. I currently work as an
Outreach Counselor for the University of Arizona’s College of Public Health.

my name on his tongue, my most recent publication, is a memoir in poems. My novels West of
the Jordan (winner of a PEN/Beyond Margins Award) and Once in a Promised Land (a Barnes
and Noble Discover Great New Authors selection; also named by the Washington Post as one of
the 100 best works of fiction for 2007) were both published by (the phenomenal) Beacon Press.
Besides fiction and poetry, I write stories for children, including a (as yet unpublished) book
entitled Tracks in the Sand. This was my first serious writing project and the one closest to my
heart as it is a collection of Palestinian folktales that I gathered from children during the year I
was living in Jordan and studying folklore on a Fulbright scholarship.

My most recent project is a novel that has as one of its main characters an American soldier
coming home to the United States after completing three tours in Iraq. The writing and
researching of this novel has led to the formation of a creative writing class for veterans.