The Coin: A Novel (Hardcover)

The Coin: A Novel By Yasmin Zaher Cover Image
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July 2024 Indie Next List


“Zaher has a powerful, unique voice that embodies notions about self, becoming naturalized in a place away from home, and what it means to be a woman with desires and obligations. This made me consider what it’s like to exist in the grey spaces.”
— Viktor Hughes, Loudmouth Books, Indianapolis, IN

Description


A bold and unabashed novel about a young Palestinian woman's unraveling as she teaches at a New York City middle school, gets caught up in a scheme reselling Birkin bags, and strives to gain control over her body and mind

The Coin’s narrator is a wealthy Palestinian woman with impeccable style and meticulous hygiene. And yet the ideal self, the ideal life, remains just out of reach: her inheritance is inaccessible, her homeland exists only in her memory, and her attempt to thrive in America seems doomed from the start.

In New York, she strives to put down roots. She teaches at a school for underprivileged boys, where her eccentric methods cross boundaries. She befriends a homeless swindler, and the two participate in an intercontinental scheme reselling Birkin bags.

But America is stifling her—her willfulness, her sexuality, her principles. In an attempt to regain control, she becomes preoccupied with purity, cleanliness, and self-image, all while drawing her students into her obsessions. In an unforgettable denouement, her childhood memories converge with her material and existential statelessness, and the narrator unravels spectacularly.

In enthralling, sensory prose, The Coin explores nature and civilization, beauty and justice, class and belonging—all while resisting easy moralizing. Provocative, wry, and inviting, The Coin marks the arrival of a major new literary voice.

"[A] smart, sneering novel of capital and its consequences . . . In a spiraling, hallucinogenic plot, The Coin draws a dotted line between the narrator’s grandmother’s garden in Palestine and a splatter of excrement on New York City subway tiles; between her grandfather’s birthplace of Bisan—'now a low-income town in Israel, housing mostly Jewish families from Morocco and no Palestinians'—Stokely Carmichael and a Gucci window display appropriating the language of revolution . . . The whiplash feels intentional, funny in an absurdist way, like the narrator’s existential seesawing between jaded American consumerism and the sadness and guilt of displacement . . . The novel’s power is not in cohesion, but in chaos." —Lauren Christensen, The New York Times Book Review

About the Author


Yasmin Zaher is a Palestinian journalist and writer born in 1991 in Jerusalem. The Coin is her first novel.

Praise For…


A Bookshop Editor's Pick * A Goodreads Editors' Pick
New York Post, A Best New Book
Named a Best Book of the Summer by Time, Elle, & Vulture
Named a Most Anticipated Book by The Seattle Times, Vulture, Marie Claire, Ms., Bookshop, Literary Hub, The Millions, & Electric Literature


"[A] smart, sneering novel of capital and its consequences . . . In a spiraling, hallucinogenic plot, The Coin draws a dotted line between the narrator’s grandmother’s garden in Palestine and a splatter of excrement on New York City subway tiles; between her grandfather’s birthplace of Bisan—'now a low-income town in Israel, housing mostly Jewish families from Morocco and no Palestinians'—Stokely Carmichael and a Gucci window display appropriating the language of revolution . . . The whiplash feels intentional, funny in an absurdist way, like the narrator’s existential seesawing between jaded American consumerism and the sadness and guilt of displacement . . . The novel’s power is not in cohesion, but in chaos." —Lauren Christensen, The New York Times Book Review

"[A] sharp and disarming debut novel . . . Zaher is expert at crisp turns of phrase that reveal how brittle her narrator is . . . A sturdy novel about an unsteady person is no small feat, and Zaher’s prose is remarkably controlled." —Mark Athitakis, The Washington Post

"Birkin-bag economics meets colorism and racism and feminism and more—it’s beyond intersectionality—in Zaher’s stunning and surreal debut novel of a young Palestinian woman who lives and teaches in New York City." —Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times

"A hypnotic portrait of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown." —Shannon Carlin, Time

"The Coin, the Palestinian journalist Zaher’s debut—which is, yes, about a woman unraveling in New York City—feels arrestingly new . . . Her narration is spiky and honest, her choices gleefully, consciously bad. The pleasure she takes in making those decisions and then recounting them is what makes The Coin both unusual and compelling. Our protagonist denies herself nothing she wants, and she denies her audience no detail. The combination renders the book tough to put down." —Lily Meyer, The Atlantic

"[An] unusual, powerful novel . . . Zaher captures the suffocating pain of isolation and loneliness in a manner that feels chillingly universal." —Connie Ogle, The Star Tribune

"The Coin feels like a distinctly Palestinian novel—concerning itself, as it does, with its narrator’s statelessness and increasing sense of isolation . . . Zaher’s book also does the vital work of reminding the reader that there is no single story to be told about any group of people in any part of the world. Zaher’s protagonist struggles under the weight of immense trauma, yes, but she’s also a fashionista, an obsessor, and an educator doing her (sometimes-flawed) best to impart wisdom. In other words, she’s a human being full of complexities and contradictions, and spending time in her world is both dizzying and delightful." —Emma Specter, Vogue

"With themes of embodiment, class, gender, loneliness and more, this is a striking debut. Read it, and then go back to read it again." —Karla J. Strand, Ms.

"In her debut novel, Zaher draws a Venn diagram of the glamorously neurotic and the politically oppressed, then sets her protagonist spinning in that maddening little overlap." —Madeline Leung Coleman, Vulture

"Stories about women spiraling out in New York aren’t exactly hard to come by, but with The Coin, Zaher fashions a narrative in this vein that’s undeniably fresh." —Chloe Joe, Bustle

"Stripped of the traditional conventions of character, Zaher’s narrator is a spirit possessed by surfaces: a free­-floating shade clad in designer goods, porous as the scent of her expensive French perfume . . . In the end, there is no escape, only a return to the self." —Terry Nguyễn, The Believer

"Fashion effortlessly converges with politics in Yasmin’s prose . . . Witty writing throughout The Coin is imbued with warped ethics, dark humour and social commentary . . . Yasmin daringly stretches the story to these extremes, making for a truly relishable read." —Hafsa Lodi, MOJEH

"[A] completely captivating debut. This is one of those books that was recommended to me by so many different people from writers to booksellers for months. Once I finally got my hands on it, it wasn’t a question of whether or not it was good. It was a question of how brilliant it was. I devoured this. It will easily be a book of the year and talked about for years to come." —Adam Vitcavage, Debutiful

"The Woman Unravelling is one of my favorite micro-genres, and The Coin is an ugly and beautiful addition . . . I’m reminded very much of My Year of Rest and Relaxation, with tones of After Leaving Mr. McKenzie and After Claude, books that detail the loneliness and narcissism of mental illness, but also the structural reasons (misogyny, for starters) why such angst is the only reasonable response." —Maris Kreizman, The Maris Review

"A very stylish novel that manages to broach class and statelessness with tact and humor, while also touching on beauty, sex, love and the nature of civilization itself, all from a Palestinian debut novelist." —Literary Hub

"The exquisite novel probes the space between the tragedy of statelessness and the neurotic glow of affluence, proving that in this overlap lies a rich and bewildering landscape of human behavior. Strange and luminous, it weaves an elegant tapestry from disparate threads, touching on class, fashion, lust, grief, and violence with wit and poise. Funny, unnerving, and decadent, The Coin is at once an intimate character study and a startling portrait of contemporary America." —Bella Moses, Foreword Reviews (starred review)

"Wondrous . . . Capitalism, materialism, love, lust, friendship, purity, the natural world, cleanliness, place, and self-image are all explored in this thunderous, lightning-speed, fast-reading tale. Zaher, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian, writes with passion and holds nothing back in her buzzy, strong debut." —Library Journal (starred review)

"When past and present, self-indulgence and self-loathing collide, the result is a bold and terrifying reinvention . . . Brilliant." —Booklist (starred review)

"[A] hypnotic debut . . . Zaher’s writing is deeply arresting, especially when her narrator is energized by her newfound sense of self-possession in New York, where she walks the streets wearing a 'violent' and 'sexual' perfume and carries a Birkin bag, which thrillingly transforms her into an object of desire . . . A tour de force." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"An absorbing fiction debut with a disquieting tale about race, class, morality, and artifice . . . A perilous journey, rendered in sensuous prose." —Kirkus Reviews

The Coin is a filthy, elegant book, keen on the fixations that overtake the body and upend a life.” —Raven Leilani, author of Luster

"The Coin is a brilliant, audacious, powerhouse of a novel. A story of obsession and appetite, politics and class, it is deliciously unruly. An exceptional debut by an outrageous new talent." —Katie Kitamura, author of Intimacies and A Separation

"I loved this bonkers novel. I was hooked by the voice, and mesmerized by the glamorous and sordid hijinks. I have never read such a strange and recognizable representation of post-2016 New York City, its luxury and squalor. Zaher is a writer to watch." —Elif Batuman, author of Either/Or and The Idiot


Product Details
ISBN: 9781646222100
ISBN-10: 1646222105
Publisher: Catapult
Publication Date: July 9th, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English