Alligator & Other Stories is longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award for Debut Short Story Collection!
*A Best Book of 2020 Bethanne Patrick, Lit Hub
“This debut short story collection from Syrian-American writer Dima Alzayat captures the many ways we can be displaced and made to feel 'other.' Comprised of nine compelling tales of grief, hope and search for meaning, Alligator and Other Stories explores identities caught in the crossfire between two cultures as well as the reality of the female migrant experience.”
Elias Jahshan, The New Arab, "Best Books of 2020 by Arab Authors"
Yaa Gyasi, “What Books Are On Your Nighstand Now?”
New York Times
“I love the range of the stories here. The title story is outstanding as is the opening story. I look forward to reading more from Alzayat.”
Roxane Gay, via Goodreads
"The richly detailed short fictions in this debut from a Damascus-born scribe form an intricate, breathtaking mosaic of modern Muslim life."
Michelle Hart, O, The Oprah Magazine
"[Alligator and Other Stories is an] extraordinary debut collection of stories focused on identity, culture, trauma, independence and transformation."
Karla Strand, Ms. Magazine, "May 2020 Reads for the Rest of Us"
"Throughout its eight stories, Alzayat’s debut explores gender, family, intergenerational trauma, assimilation and race. Crucially, the stories evoke displacement in a variety of ways: as a Syrian, as an Arab, as an immigrant and as a woman."
Layla Haidrani, GQ Middle East, "The Patient Pursuit of Nuance: Syrian-American author Dima Alzayat is the latest in a string of Arab and Middle Eastern female writers to present a more modern portrait of identity"
"Startling, often shocking... brilliant."
Eithne Farry, Daily Mail
"In 'Alligator,' Alzayat tackles race and the police through an intricate collection of media... Her timely narrative gives the world pause. How far has America come with its race relations? How far has our faith in the police been shaken? Without judgement, Alzayat makes space to consider these and other questions."Short Story Book Club, SSBC Podcast: Dima Alzayat
"Sardonic, monstrous, tender, these well-crafted tales show us circumstances that might be our own, and let us see them through the eyes of others."
The Sunday Times (UK)
"Every story in Alzayat’s collection feels startling and heartbreaking... these stories beg to be read and the characters listened to."
Karla Mendez, The Book Slut
"Alzayat’s slim, powerful debut collection showcases the author’s deep empathy and imagination in stories about grief, assimilation, and trauma... This intelligent collection is a force to be reckoned with."
Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A stellar debut... Alzayat manages to execute a short but thoughtful meditation on the spectrum of race in America from Jackson’s presidency to present. Here and everywhere, Alligator is a collection about the power and limitations of empathy. An exciting debut collection exploring the local and global valences of trauma."
Colin Groundwater, GQ
"Each story displays a strong point of view and manages to be uniquely the author's own. The title piece references the true story of a Syrian immigrant lynched with the aid of law enforcement in a Florida town in 1929. Alzayat uses multiple voices from history in the form of diary entries, social media posts, and newspaper clippings, to tell both individual stories and a larger history of racial violence in the U.S. This method is ambitious and successfully creates a feeling greater than plot and character development... definitely signals a writer to watch."
Kathy Sexton, Booklist
"Like the best collage artists, Alzayat cuts apart America’s accepted history and pastes it back together into something completely startling and fresh."
Sara Batkie, Chicago Review of Books, "10 Small Press Story Collections You Might Have Missed"
"One of the best short stories I have ever read... Alzayat has a wonderfully unique writing style with stirring prose. The way she unified these stories that all had such a different scope is pure talent! I can't wait to read more from her."
Kate Hill, Bookalong, Instagram
"This title story in the new collection Alligator and Other Stories, is a powerful collage of institutional racism and Alzayat’s informed imagination."
Glen Young, Petoksey News
"Originality meets craft."
Anne Enright, author of The Gathering
"Alligator contains several stories of breathtaking power, worth noting since the title story alone, based on the true story of a Syrian man lynched in Florida in 1929, is worth the price of several volumes. Dima Alzayat combines superb writing with razor-sharp imagination and focuses on social injustice, racial violence, and global immigration."
Bethanne Patrick, LitHub
"Dima Alzayat scrys the past, spinning narratives that are ahead of our time. War, politics and power come clashing together in these inventive stories that flit between styles and perspectives with dexterity. Alzayat may be the first person to realize that our history is our own black mirror."
Jacob Hoefer, Labyrinth Books (Princeton, NJ)
"The span of Alzayat’s range in just nine short stories is breathtaking and inspiring... Each story is so different, and yet there is a connecting thread of empathy that pulses throughout, giving the collection a heart that is, perhaps, bigger than this world deserves."
Mallory Miller, Paperback Paris
"An astute observer of worlds both old and new, Alzayat listened hard to her elders, recognized inconsistencies and digs deep into uncomfortable no-go areas. She is a formidable new voice in understanding the complexities of race and identity."
Malu Halasa, The Markas Review
"Alzayat’s debut story collection, Alligator, offers us a window into the lives of those alienated by history, race, gender or cultural mores. Syria’s shadow hangs over the stories and many involve immigrants trying to assimilate in an unfamiliar culture. As Black Lives Matter dominates the news once again, her titular story ‘Alligator’ could not be timelier."
Lucy Popescu, The London Magazine
"In the deft and decisive hands of Dima Alzayat, Alligator's stories are nothing if not inextricable from one another, bonded together, better as their nine-story whole than as nine separate parts... And each story pushes the reader towards a slow dawning of realization about its moral core and meaning, a wave cresting that breaks just before the end and leaves emotional flotsam in its wake. Prepare to be tossed by Alligator's tide, and beware of what lurks just below the surface."
Anna Weber, White Whale Bookstore (Pittsburgh, PA)
"Powerful short story collection written from different perspectives. The title story is a must-read!"
Dave Lucey, Page 158 Books (Wake Forest, NC)
"Gloriously hypnotic. These charged, visceral stories get under the skin and stay there. This collection heralds the arrival of an electrifying new voice."
Irenosen Okojie, author of Butterfly Fish and Speak Gigantular
"This is a wonderful collection, exceptional in fact. Its consideration of displacement and identity is so nuanced, intelligent and tender, and its modes of telling so dextrous, apt and beautiful. In Alligator and Other Stories, lives are captured with care and formidable compassion."
Wendy Erskine, author of Sweet Home
“Alzayat’s compassion for her characters runs deep in this book. I especially can’t stop thinking about the title storyan original, heartbreaking and hypnotic collage.”
Katya Apekina, author of The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish
"In the debut short story collection Alligator, author Dima Alzayat proves herself an incredible literary chameleon, writing across history, nationality, gender and age with deep nuance and empathy. The title story, "Alligator," is an ambitious, original take on the history of racist violence in the United States. The range of voices and perspectives rendered with such authenticity in this collection is a major accomplishment. Together the stories form a patchwork of loss and grief that are unsentimental yet resonant."
Dana Czapnik, author of The Falconer
"I found [Alligator] tremendously assured, wise-cracking and elegaic, with a firm pulse on the magical and mundane. I loved its hard-edged lyricism and the tremendous empathetic range and distinctiveness of vision that Dima Alzayat demonstrates in this wonderful collection that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt caught between cultures, places and the interstices of memory and the loaded everyday."
Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
"Dima Alzayat's stories are nuanced, unusual and emotionally lacerating. Hers is a voice that is both vital and haunting."
Stuart Evers, author of Your Father Sends His Love
"Alligator and Other Stories is heartfelt, heartbreaking and heart-mending. It's also razor sharp on the shifting layers of history, family, faith, gender, culture and language that make up that strange thing we call 'identity.' An important, necessary book."
Jenn Ashworth, author of A Kind of Intimacy