Close cookie details

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav
Fencing With the King
Cover of Fencing With the King
Fencing With the King
A Novel
Borrow Borrow Borrow

One of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of the Month

A mesmerizing breakthrough novel of family myths and inheritances by the award-winning author of Crescent.

The King of Jordan is turning 60! How better to celebrate the occasion than with his favorite pastime—fencing—and with his favorite sparring partner, Gabriel Hamdan, who must be enticed back from America, where he lives with his wife and his daughter, Amani.

Amani, a divorced poet, jumps at the chance to accompany her father to his homeland for the King's birthday. Her father's past is a mystery to her—even more so since she found a poem on blue airmail paper slipped into one of his old Arabic books, written by his mother, a Palestinian refugee who arrived in Jordan during World War I. Her words hint at a long-kept family secret, carefully guarded by Uncle Hafez, an advisor to the King, who has quite personal reasons for inviting his brother to the birthday party. In a sibling rivalry that carries ancient echoes, the Hamdan brothers must face a reckoning, with themselves and with each other—one that almost costs Amani her life.

With sharp insight into modern politics and family dynamics, taboos around mental illness, and our inescapable relationship to the past, Fencing with the King asks how we contend with inheritance: familial and cultural, hidden and openly contested. Shot through with warmth and vitality, intelligence and spirit, it is absorbing and satisfying on every level, a wise and rare literary treat.

One of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of the Month

A mesmerizing breakthrough novel of family myths and inheritances by the award-winning author of Crescent.

The King of Jordan is turning 60! How better to celebrate the occasion than with his favorite pastime—fencing—and with his favorite sparring partner, Gabriel Hamdan, who must be enticed back from America, where he lives with his wife and his daughter, Amani.

Amani, a divorced poet, jumps at the chance to accompany her father to his homeland for the King's birthday. Her father's past is a mystery to her—even more so since she found a poem on blue airmail paper slipped into one of his old Arabic books, written by his mother, a Palestinian refugee who arrived in Jordan during World War I. Her words hint at a long-kept family secret, carefully guarded by Uncle Hafez, an advisor to the King, who has quite personal reasons for inviting his brother to the birthday party. In a sibling rivalry that carries ancient echoes, the Hamdan brothers must face a reckoning, with themselves and with each other—one that almost costs Amani her life.

With sharp insight into modern politics and family dynamics, taboos around mental illness, and our inescapable relationship to the past, Fencing with the King asks how we contend with inheritance: familial and cultural, hidden and openly contested. Shot through with warmth and vitality, intelligence and spirit, it is absorbing and satisfying on every level, a wise and rare literary treat.

Available formats-
  • Kindle Book
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
Subjects-
Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Diana Abu-Jaber is the award-winning author of seven books of fiction and nonfiction, including Crescent and The Language of Baklava. She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    Starred review from November 1, 2021

    In this latest from the multi-award-winning Abu-Jaber (Birds of Paradise), young American poet Amani is struggling with both her career and her marriage when her father, Gabe, is invited by his royal-adviser brother Hafez to return to his homeland, Jordan, and fence with the king during the celebrations surrounding the king's 60th birthday in 1995. (Gabe had fenced with the king in his youth, as did Abu-Jaber's father.) Gabe has no interest in returning to a place he left decades ago, but when Amani discovers a poem-like missive tucked into one of his old books, she is determined to have them both travel to Jordan so that she can investigate the mystery of the letter and her family background. Unfortunately, Amani's uncle Hafez is deviously ambitious--not just politically but within the family; he covets a precious heirloom in Gabe's possession and, readers eventually learn, committed a shocking act in his youth to secure his familial position. As Amani slowly uncovers these and other secrets, she must ask herself where she belongs, what it means to come from anywhere, and how to balance the importance of the past with the promise of the future. VERDICT A resonant and pointedly perceptive story about family, Middle East history, and creating new narratives, whether as individuals or nations.--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

    Copyright 2021 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    January 1, 2022
    A failed marriage behind her, Amani Hamdan knows tenure at her college faculty job is a tenuous proposition, and her ancestral land of Jordan has always exerted a pull. When her father, Gabe, is invited to Jordan for a fencing demonstration with the king, Amani decides to join him. Once there, Amani delves into family roots and explores the hidden story of her Palestinian grandmother, Natalia. In Jordan, Amani's uncle Hafez has an agenda of his own and covets Il Saif, an ancient sword that was passed on as a family heirloom to his brother Gabe. Abu-Jaber (Birds of Paradise, 2011) spins a mesmerizing tale of displacement, not just in Gabe's move to the U.S. but in Natalia's wrenching transplantation to Jordan. Even if at times the narrative stumbles under the weight of its storytelling ambitions, this is a haunting look at the pull the past exerts on us. As Gabe finds out, "the longer you're away, the bigger and more elusive the past becomes; a beautiful monster." Descriptions of the shifting desert landscapes are icing on the cake.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 24, 2022
    Abu-Jaber (Crescent) places a family in the crosshairs of Jordanian political intrigue in this nicely layered story. In 1995, recently divorced poet Amani Hamdan encourages her father Gabe to accept an invitation to return to his native Jordan for a fencing demonstration alongside the king. Amani, intrigued to learn more about a mysterious poem written by her deceased grandmother, accompanies him on her first trip there. They stay with Gabe’s older brother, Hafez, an influential government official who has schemed to lure Gabe and recover an ancient knife from him that belonged to their late father. Hafez views Amani as a potential protege but is unsettled by her questions about the family’s past, and while he plots to claim a lucrative swath of land near the Israeli border, which is ripe for settlement by Palestinian refugees, Amani tries to locate the places mentioned in her grandmother’s poem. She also uncovers a lost relative and catches the eye of a fencing instructor. Their romance takes up a good chunk of the final act, but it’s less gripping than the plot involving Hafez. Still, Abu-Jaber ably captures the tenuous role of Jordan in the mid-1990s Middle East peace process while unearthing a family’s buried secrets. It adds up to an engrossing family drama.

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2022
    A woman from Syracuse, New York, makes her first trip to Jordan with her immigrant father to celebrate King Hussein's 60th birthday. The 1995 monthlong birthday festivities are the government's attempt to highlight Jordan's influence in the region and Hussein's peacemaking skills. Hafez Hamdan, a Yale-educated adviser to the king, has invited his younger brother, Gabe, who (like Abu-Jaber's father) had been the king's sparring partner years earlier, to participate in a fencing demonstration with the king. Gabe's daughter, Amani, a recently divorced poet and professor, joins Gabe on the trip, her curiosity concerning her family history whetted after finding a scrap of poetry written and translated into English by her long-dead grandmother. Along the way she uncovers a dark family secret concerning a long-lost relative. Amani is the usual contemporary heroine of this somewhat contrived romantic melodrama: She starts as passive and insecure; then, through a series of plot manipulations and skillfully described adventures, particularly getting lost alone overnight in the desert, she discovers inner strength as well as the love of a courtly, handsome man who's half Muslim and half Jew. Inadvertently, Amani also upends Hafez's private agenda for the Hamdan brothers' reunion, plans motivated by a combination of greed, envy, simmering resentment, and genuine affection for his favorite niece. Hafez is a disturbing villain: a feminist, an intellectual, and a loyal aide to his king but also selfish, vengeful, anti-democratic. And perhaps murderous. The novel's third, most complex protagonist is Jordan itself. Abu-Jaber focuses on the ruling-class Hamdan family--generous, striving, proud of their Bedouin and Orthodox Christian roots. Jordan's poor are meagerly represented by stereotypically devoted servants and noble traditional Bedouins. Personifying Jordan, King Hussein is idealized as a grand-hearted optimist, a warrior for peace; but his government's secret police allow no opposition, and corruption is the norm. While Abu-Jaber glories in Jordan's beauty and culture, the shadows of poverty and authoritarianism are ever present. A slightly overwrought family drama set against a fascinating backdrop of late-20th-century Middle Eastern politics.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Title Information+
  • Publisher
    W. W. Norton & Company
  • Kindle Book
    Release date:
  • OverDrive Read
    Release date:
  • EPUB eBook
    Release date:
Digital Rights Information+
  • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

Status bar:

You've reached your checkout limit.

Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

Close

You already have this title checked out.

Want to go to your Checkouts?

Close

Recommendation Limit Reached.

You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 1 titles every 30 day(s).

Close

Sign in to recommend this title.

Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

Close

Enhanced Details

Close
Close

Limited availability

Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

is available for days.

Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

Close

Permissions

Close

The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

Close

Holds

Total holds:


Close

Restricted

Some format options have been disabled. You may see additional download options outside of this network.

Close

MP3 audiobooks are only supported on macOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) through 10.14 (Mojave). Learn more about MP3 audiobook support on Macs.

Close

Please update to the latest version of the OverDrive app to stream videos.

Close

Device Compatibility Notice

The OverDrive app is required for this format on your current device.

Close

Bahrain, Egypt, Hong Kong, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen

Close

You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

Close

Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

Close

You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

Close

This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

Close

An unexpected error has occurred.

If this problem persists, please contact support.

Close

Close

NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

Close
Buy it now
and help our library WIN!
Fencing With the King
Fencing With the King
A Novel
Diana Abu-Jaber
Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
Clicking on the 'Buy It Now' link will cause you to leave the library download platform website. The content of the retail website is not controlled by the library. Please be aware that the website does not have the same privacy policy as the library or its service providers.
Close
Close

There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

Close
Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.

Accept to ContinueCancel