Story Behind the Story

Episode 18: Zaina Arafat - YOU EXIST TOO MUCH

August 8th, 2020

Zaina Arafat grew up in two very different worlds with different sets of expectations. It left her with a profound sense of alienation and the feeling of being caught between two identities. As a queer woman who identifies as bisexual, she felt similarly torn.

In her debut novel, You Exist Too Much, Arafat explores that feeling of unbelonging through an unnamed narrator who disappears into romantic relationships and leaves when her partners begin to see her. We talk in this interview about the ways she explored those themes in her novel, her own experiences of growing up in a diaspora, and her narrator's difficult relationship with her mother.

ZAINA ARAFAT is a Palestinian-American journalist and fiction writer whose work centers the Arab diaspora. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, NPR, and many other publications.