“Riveting…From the very first line, Rum brings you into the hearts and minds of these characters, and you’ll stay connected to them well beyond finishing the last page.” — Buzzfeed News

Etaf Rum is a Palestinian-American New York Times Bestselling author. Her debut novel, A Woman Is Man, garnered attention as a Today Show Read with Jenna Pick, marking the beginning of her literary acclaim. With her latest novel, Evil Eye, recognized as an NPR Best Book of the Year, Etaf Rum solidifies her position as a leading voice in literary fiction that transcends continents and histories.

Etaf Rum is the New York Times bestselling author of A Woman Is No Man, which was named a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, among many other honors. She has a master of arts in American and British literature as well as undergraduate degrees in philosophy and English composition.

Etaf also runs the Instagram account @booksandbeans.

Etaf's Featured Titles

Evil Eye

Harper |
Women’s Fiction

An NPR Best Book of the Year

“A moving meditation on motherhood, inter-generational trauma and how surface appearances often obscure a deeper truth. . . . A stunning second novel from a writer who set the bar very high with her first!”—Tara Conklin, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Romantics and Community Board

The acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of A Woman Is No Man returns with a striking exploration of the expectations of a Palestinian-American woman, the meaning of a fulfilling life, and the ways our unresolved pasts affect our presents.

“After Yara is placed on probation at work for fighting with a racist coworker, her Palestinian mother claims the provocation and all that’s come after were the result of a family curse. While Yara doesn’t believe in old superstitions, she finds herself unpacking her strict, often volatile childhood growing up in Brooklyn, looking for clues as to why she feels so unfulfilled in a life her mother could only dream of. Etaf Rum’s follow-up to her 2019 debut, A Woman Is No Man, is a complicated mother-daughter drama that looks at the lasting effects of intergenerational trauma and what it takes to break the cycle of abuse.” Time magazine, “The Most Anticipated Books of the Year”

A Woman Is No Man

Harper Perennial |
Women’s Fiction

A Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist for Best Fiction and Best Debut • BookBrowse’s Best Book of the Year • A Marie Claire Best Women’s Fiction of the Year • A Real Simple Best Book of the Year • A PopSugar Best Book of the Year All Written By Females • A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • A Washington Post 10 Books to Read in March • A Newsweek Best Book of the Summer • A USA Today Best Book of the Week • A Washington Book Review Difficult-To-Put-Down Novel • A Refinery 29 Best Books of the Month • A Buzzfeed News 4 Books We Couldn’t Put Down Last Month • A New Arab Best Books by Arab Authors • An Electric Lit 20 Best Debuts of the First Half of 2019 • A The Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2019

“Garnering justified comparisons to Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns… Etaf Rum’s debut novel is a must-read about women mustering up the bravery to follow their inner voice.”   —Refinery 29

The New York Times bestseller and Read with Jenna TODAY SHOW Book Club pick telling the story of three generations of Palestinian-American women struggling to express their individual desires within the confines of their Arab culture in the wake of shocking intimate violence in their community.

“Where I come from, we’ve learned to silence ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence will save us. Where I come from, we keep these stories to ourselves. To tell them to the outside world is unheard ofdangerous, the ultimate shame.”

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children—four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can’t help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family—knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future.


Find Your Truth & Tell It: The Power of Showing up Authentically & Taking Up Space

Etaf Rum delves into the transformative journey of embracing authenticity and claiming one’s space, particularly within the context of being a minority woman. With passion and insight, she explores the significance of finding one’s truth and fearlessly sharing it with the world.

Rum highlights the challenges faced as a daughter Palestinian immigrants, from professional environments to personal relationships. She emphasizes the importance of breaking through societal barriers and cultural expectations to assert individual identity and voice.

Drawing from personal anecdotes and collective experiences, Rum illustrates how embracing authenticity empowers minority women to challenge stereotypes, defy expectations, and pave the way for genuine connection and understanding. She advocates for the celebration of diverse perspectives and the recognition of the inherent value each individual brings to the table.

Throughout the talk, Rum urges listeners to embrace their unique truths, stand boldly in their authenticity, and boldly take up space in a world that often seeks to marginalize or silence them. She leaves the audience with a powerful reminder that by finding and sharing their truths, they have the potential to catalyze profound change and reshape the narrative of their own lives and communities.


Healing Intergenerational Trauma & Breaking the Cycle of Shame

There is an unspoken rule, common among ethnic American writers, never to “air their dirty laundry” in public, which has become arguably even more important for Middle Eastern and Muslim American writers following the events of 9/11. The opening of Etaf Rum’s A Woman Is No Man (2019) defines this contract of silence as a specifically female condition:

“Where I come from, voicelessness is the condition of my gender, as normal as the bosoms on a woman’s chest, as necessary as the next generation growing inside her belly. But we will never tell you this, of course. Where I come from, we’ve learned to conceal our condition. We’ve been taught to silence ourselves, that our silence will save us. It is only now, many years later, that I know this to be false. Only now, as I write this story, do I feel my voice coming.”

Not only does Rum point to the danger of defying community rules, she uses these words to mark the beginning of her own storytelling and to communicate that breaking long‐held silences is important and necessary. Her semi‐autobiographical debut novel takes an unflinching look at how patriarchal gender role expectations and gender‐based family violence impact three generations of Arab American women.


On Literary Empathy & the Performative Reading of Palestinian Authors: Etaf Rum Considers Reading & Writing During Times of Crisis

Etaf Rum explores the paradox surrounding empathy cultivated through literature, particularly within the context of minority experiences, such as being a Palestinian American woman. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, she was immersed in a narrative of displacement and marginalization, which became the fabric of her identity. Books became her refuge, offering solace and insight into the universal human experience through the works of writers like Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou.

Inspired by these voices, Rum aimed to create space for Palestinians on the literary bookshelf, sharing stories of intergenerational trauma and resilience. However, recent reactions from readers revealed a troubling truth: while they celebrated her Palestinian novels, they were shocked and furious to learn of her unwavering support for the Palestinian cause.

Rum underscores the urgency of bridging the gap between empathy in fiction and action in reality, especially amidst crises like the ongoing genocide in Gaza. She calls for readers to extend their empathy beyond the pages of fiction and into tangible support for marginalized communities, challenging biases and advocating for justice.

Ultimately, while true empathy transcends fiction—it requires acknowledgment, understanding, and active engagement with real-world issues.

Etaf’s BookPage Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

NY Times Bestselling Author
A Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist for Best Fiction and Best Debut
BookBrowse’s Best Book of the Year
A Marie Claire Best Women’s Fiction of the Year
A Real Simple Best Book of the Year
A PopSugar Best Book of the Year All Written By Females
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
A Washington Post 10 Books to Read in March
A Newsweek Best Book of the Summer
A USA Today Best Book of the Week
A Washington Book Review Difficult-To-Put-Down Novel
A Refinery 29 Best Books of the Month
A Buzzfeed News 4 Books We Couldn’t Put Down Last Month
A New Arab Best Books by Arab Authors
An Electric Lit 20 Best Debuts of the First Half of 2019
A The Millions Most Anticipated Books of 2019
A Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist for Best Fiction -EVIL EYE
An NPR Best Book of the Year- EVIL EYE

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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