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Origin: A Novel

Abu-Jaber, Diana

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“Finally, a novel of literary suspense that gets almost everything right—forensically and psychologically.”—Sarah Weinman, Baltimore Sun

In this "mystery of cold beauty and dark isolation, written with crystalline precision" ( Miami Herald), a series of crib deaths in Syracuse, New York, draws the attention of police and national media. Is a serial infant murderer at large?A "haunting story, icy cold in its upstate New York setting but glowing with the unusual brightness of its heroine" ( Eugene Weekly), Origin stars a solitary fingerprint examiner who finds herself playing a critical role in the case. Diana Abu-Jaber, a "gifted and graceful writer" ( Chicago Tribune), masterfully "transcends formula" ( Kirkus Reviews) as "the tension of Origin escalates, shaped as much by beautifully nuanced prose as menacing events" ( New York Daily News). Reading group guide included.

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Review:

Known for her books on Arab-American themes, Crescent, Arabian Jazz, and The Language of Baklava, Abu-Jaber makes a departure here, into a whole new world of mystery, alienation and unanswered questions. Lena Dawson is a fingerprint expert in Syracuse, New York, at the time that SIDS is, unaccountably, on the rise. When cribs start showing up in the evidence lab, everyone is uncomfortable, Lena more than anyone. She doesn't believe in coincidence; she thinks that there is a serial baby-killer loose.

Lena doesn't know where she came from. Her foster parents tell her only so much, and her mother keeps insisting that their loving presence should be enough for her. Why didn't they ever adopt her? Lena asks the question over and over again, to no avail. Her earliest memories are of a rain forest, an ape mother, fur and leaves and a canopy of trees...was she really raised by apes until she was found by humans and put in foster care?

Abu-Jaber has done a masterful job of keeping the suspense going right to the very end. The story is compulsively readable; once you start, you can't stop until you find out what the real story is. Lena's origin has something to do with the crib deaths, but what is it? How could they possibly be connected? With the help of a detective who is more than a friend and an understanding boss and his wife, Lena pursues the question relentlessly, at her own peril. She could be the next victim.

Lena also has an ex-husband who is well-meaning most of the time, but really is a certifiable jerk, colleagues who are gossipy backbiters and a goofy neighbor, just to up the ante in this absolutely original (no pun intended) story of identity. Lena is socially inept, reclusive and possessed of an uncanny sense of smell and an intuitive approach to every question. Her character dominates the book, and as she uncovers more and more about herself, her personality opens up and, by story's end, she is becoming what she was meant to be. A departure for Abu-Jaber; a treat for readers. --Valerie Ryan

About the Author:

Diana Abu-Jaber is the award-winning author of Origin, Crescent, Arabian Jazz, and The Language of Baklava. Her writing has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Ms., Salon, Vogue, Gourmet, the New York Times, The Nation, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. She divides her time between Coral Gables, Florida, and Portland, Oregon.

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Book Description Norton, 2008. Soft cover. Book Condition: New. No Jacket. 1st Edition. 2008. Trade Paperback. First Printing, thus. Secretly, in her heart of hearts, Lena Dawson hoides the strangest of believs about her childhood. A superb fingerprint analyst in a crime lab in snowy Syracuse, New York, she feels totally out of place. A mysterious series of crib deaths leads her to solve the most difficult puzzle of all--the one of her own origins. Mint in pictorial wraps. Language: eng Language: eng 0.0. Bookseller Inventory # 9867

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 208 x 137 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. In this mystery of cold beauty and dark isolation, written with crystalline precision (Miami Herald), a series of crib deaths in Syracuse, New York, draws the attention of police and national media. Is a serial infant murderer at large?A haunting story, icy cold in its upstate New York setting but glowing with the unusual brightness of its heroine (Eugene Weekly), Origin stars a solitary fingerprint examiner who finds herself playing a critical role in the case. Diana Abu-Jaber, a gifted and graceful writer (Chicago Tribune), masterfully transcends formula (Kirkus Reviews) as the tension of Origin escalates, shaped as much by beautifully nuanced prose as menacing events (New York Daily News). Reading group guide included. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780393331554

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Book Description WW Norton Co, United States, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 208 x 137 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. In this mystery of cold beauty and dark isolation, written with crystalline precision (Miami Herald), a series of crib deaths in Syracuse, New York, draws the attention of police and national media. Is a serial infant murderer at large?A haunting story, icy cold in its upstate New York setting but glowing with the unusual brightness of its heroine (Eugene Weekly), Origin stars a solitary fingerprint examiner who finds herself playing a critical role in the case. Diana Abu-Jaber, a gifted and graceful writer (Chicago Tribune), masterfully transcends formula (Kirkus Reviews) as the tension of Origin escalates, shaped as much by beautifully nuanced prose as menacing events (New York Daily News). Reading group guide included. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780393331554

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