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 Discovering a Sense of Self

Joyce Zonana

"We have to find home in ourselves," Joyce Zonana

UMD Welcomes Joyce Zonana:
Border Crossings, Exploring Self in an Ever-Changing World

Joyce Zonana, English professor at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and author of Dream Homes: From Cairo to Katrina, An Exile’s Journey, is an Egyptian Jew by birth. In two public events at UMD, she will explore issues of gender, cultural, and racial identity in the context of a multicultural, international, and ever-changing world. "Everything is transitory," Zonana said. "We can lose everything in an instant, and we do lose everything in an instant. We have to find home in ourselves. That's really the theme of the book." The writing workshop, (free to the public) to be held from noon- 2 pm on Tuesday, April 14 in Kirby 333 is entitled, "Discovering a Sense of Self." To register, call 218-726-8996. Zonana will also offer a presentation and public reading entitled, "Border Crossing," at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, April 15 in the Weber Music Hall. The presentation will be rebroadcast at 7 pm on Monday, April 20 on UMD's radio station, KUMD 103.3FM,


Writing Workshop
Tues, April 14, 12 noon – 2 pm
Kirby 333
Free, To register call 726-8996
or email



Presentation and Public Reading
Wed, April 15, 6:30 pm
Weber Music Hall

Rebroadcast, Mon, April 20, 7 pm,
KUMD Radio, 103.3 FM,


Download pdf of Poster

About the Book
Published in August 2008 by The Feminist Press, Dream Homes has been described as a classic immigrant coming-of-age narrative with a few distinctive differences. The third in the Reuben/Rifkin Jewish Women Writers Series, a joint project of the Feminist Press and the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, the memoir recounts the struggles of Zonana, an Egyptian-Jewish American as she forges an identity that bridges a number of apparent divides--Muslim and Jewish, gay and straight, Eastern and Western, urban and suburban, dutiful daughter and independent woman. As she lives and then tells her own story, Zonana also comes to terms with and tells the stories of her family of displaced Arab-Jews.

Reviewers Say . . .
"Unlike the dominant narrative found in memoirs written by Egyptian Jews in the U.S. whose emphasis is on the powerful religious and historical themes of getting 'out of Egypt,' Zonana offers a more nuanced counter narrative underlining the survival of the Egyptian roots of her Jewish family in the U.S. It is very moving to read about her determined effort to reconstruct these personal fragments, not by choosing one home/identity over another, but through the integration of the two in today's increasingly multicultural world."
Mervat F. Hatem, Professor of Political Science, Howard University, President, Middle Eastern Studies Association

"A lush and beautiful read!" Emily Toth, Professor of Literature, Louisiana State University.

About Joyce Zonana
Joyce Zonana is an Associate Professor of English at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. She has taught at the University of Oklahoma, the University of New Orleans, Rowan University, and Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science. Her essays and articles have appeared in numerous scholarly and literary journals, including Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, Signs, Meridians, Victorian Poetry, and the Hudson Review. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

These events are supported by UMD’s Library, the Commission on Women, Women’s Studies Department, Women’s Resource and Action Center, Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Services, Psychology Department, and Sociology/Anthropology Department.

For information contact 218-726-7953 or 726-8996, or email

Review by Susan Larson in New Orleans Times Picayune

Joyce Zonana web page

Written by Cheryl Reitan

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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