ONCE IN A PROMISED LAND

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Laila Halaby

Once in a Promised Land is the story of Jassim and Salwa, who left the deserts of their native Jordan for those of Arizona, each chasing mirages of opportunity and freedom. Although the couple lives far from Ground Zero, they cannot escape the dust cloud of paranoia settling over the nation. A hydrologist, Jassim believes passionately in his mission to make water accessible to all people, but his work is threatened by an FBI witch hunt for domestic terrorists. A Palestinian now twice displaced, Salwa embraces the American dream. She grapples to put down roots in an unwelcoming climate,

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Once in a Promised Land is the story of Jassim and Salwa, who left the deserts of their native Jordan for those of Arizona, each chasing mirages of opportunity and freedom. Although the couple lives far from Ground Zero, they cannot escape the dust cloud of paranoia settling over the nation. A hydrologist, Jassim believes passionately in his mission to make water accessible to all people, but his work is threatened by an FBI witch hunt for domestic terrorists. A Palestinian now twice displaced, Salwa embraces the American dream. She grapples to put down roots in an unwelcoming climate, becoming pregnant against her husband’s wishes. When Jassim kills a teenage boy in a terrible accident and Salwa becomes hopelessly entangled with a shadowy young American, their tenuous lives in exile and their fragile marriage begin to unravel. Once in a Promised Land is a dramatic and achingly honest look at what it means to straddle cultures, to be viewed with suspicion, and to struggle to find safe haven.

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