patricia sarrafian ward

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Graywolf Press, 2003
Now available in paperback

The narrator Marianna, haunted by events her family is reluctant to discuss, recounts the fragmented, delicate story of her and her older sister growing up in wartime Beirut. Throughout their childhood, Marianna watches Alaine collect the detritus of war--bullets, grenades, shrapnel, a gas mask. These objects, some taken from corpses, line Alaine's bedroom shelves, a catalog of her retreat into a profound depression against which her family is powerless. For all their effort to endure the daily violence without, the war enters within, transforming their home into a place of danger and secrets. Marianna, ever watching, listening, becomes her older sister's keeper, desperate to solve the mystery of her sorrow. But once the family moves to America, Alaine changes, bewildering Marianna in her apparent newfound peace. Recovering from her own near-fatal depression, Marianna finds herself dwelling in past and present at once, telling the stories that no one else seems to remember, and in this way seeks to join the threads of her two lives.

In lyrical, dreamlike prose, Patricia Sarrafian Ward mines both the stunning, exotic landscape of Beirut and the pure, defiant landscape of a child's heart, and shows how war leaves its indelible scars on both.

Widely reviewed in U.S., European, and Arab publications, The Bullet Collection received the GLCA New Writers Award, Anahid Literary Award, and Hala Maksoud Award for Outstanding Emerging Writer.

You can read an excerpt in Archipelago.

Delphi Quarterly: An Online Journal of Interviews with Writers of Prose and Poetry
Fall 2013, Vol I, Issue 4

An interview about growing up during the Lebanese civil war, and about The Bullet Collection

see here

More on The Bullet Collection
Reviews available online:

Bookslut: href="'s">

Publisher's</a> Weekly:

Amira Pierce, JSTOR:

Susannah Tarboush, Dar Al-Hayat, Saudi Arabia, translatation here:

Pauline Homsi Vinson, Al-Jadid Magazine:

Tricia Cornell, Minneapolis City Pages:

Discussed in critical essays:

David Williams, "This Hyphen Called My Spinal Cord: Arab-American Literature at the Beginning of the 21st Century", World Literature Today (81:1), pages 55-63, Jan-Feb 2007. See here

Layla Maleh (ed), Arab Voices in Diaspora: Critical Perspectives on Anglophone Arab Literature, Cross Cultures:
Readings in the Post/Colonial Literatures in English, 2009.  see here

Syrine Hout, "Revisiting Lebanon: Testimony, Trauma, and Transition in Patricia Sarrafian Ward's The Bullet Collection," Middle Eastern Literatures, Vol. 12, No. 3, December 2009.  see here

Steven Salaita, Modern Arab American Fiction: A Reader's Guide, Syracuse University Press, 2011.  See here

Syrine Hout, Post-War Anglophone Lebanese Fiction:  Home Matters in the Diaspora, Edinburgh University Press, 2012.  see here