Fiction. Jewish Studies. When Hannah accompanies her husband and small children to Jerusalem for the year, she becomes fascinated with a group of expat women at her son's daycare, as well as a young Palestinian woman named Jenna. As she grows close to Jenna she starts to question her own marriage and her relationship to Israel. A novel of domestic and political ambivalence, ARABIC FOR BEGINNERS is about marriage, motherhood, friendship, nation, and the complicated ways we think of home."Freedman brilliantly captures the existential and alienated state that mothers of young children inhabit. Freedman's work is reminiscent of Rachel Cusk and Deborah Levy." —Heather O'Neill"ARABIC FOR BEGINNERS brings into sharp relief a young mother's sabbatical year in Jerusalem in the era of the Gaza war. This is a brave, intelligent and impressive literary debut." —Elaine Kalman Naves"This account of a Canadian family's year in Israel is a study of tensions both national and interpersonal, and of the reasons relationships survive or fade away. Freedman's subtle, graceful prose spans the large and the small, the wondrous and the quotidian, as it explores the question of how certain places—and certain people—come to feel like home."— Abigail Deutsch
Ariela Freedman was born in Brooklyn and has lived in Jerusalem, New York, Calgary, London, and Montreal. She has a Ph.D. from New York University and teaches literature at Concordia's Liberal Arts College in Montreal, where she lives with her family. Her debut, Arabic for Beginners (LLP, 2017), was shortlisted for the QWF Concordia University First Book Prize and won the 2018 J. I. Segal Prize for Fiction. Her second novel, A Joy to be Hidden (LLP, 2019), was shortlisted for the Segal Prize in 2020, and was a finalist for the The Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction.