By Dalia Azim
Country of Origin is a multigenerational family saga that cuts between political revolution in 1950s Egypt and the personal revolutions of four family members whose lives intersect around the disappearance of one of their own.
Publication Date: April 12, 2022
Seventeen-year-old Halah Ibrahim has always known a privileged life and never had cause to question it until Cairo goes up in flames. Not only does she start to doubt her father and his role in the new military-backed government—but she ultimately decides to flee to America with a young soldier she hardly knows, an impulsive act that has far-reaching consequences on both sides of the ocean. A powerful and universal debut novel about family, identity, and independence, Country of Origin is as much about a nation's coming-of-age as it is about secrets and lies, love and truth.
Dalia Azim’s work has appeared in American Short Fiction, Aperture, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Glimmer Train (where she received their Short Story Award for New Writers), Other Voices, Alcalde, and Sightlines, among other places. She lives in Austin, TX, where she is the manager of special projects at the Blanton Museum of Art. Previously she worked as a researcher at the Dedalus Foundation and as a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Modern Art. She graduated with a dual degree in art and literature from Stanford University and grew up in Canada and Colorado.
"Azim’s evocative debut...gradually reveal[s] hidden layers of the story, enriching her characters and illuminating the heart of a country and people. The result is insightful and nuanced." —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
"Country of Origin is a rich, character-driven novel about personhood, enduring love, and immense grief." —FOREWORD REVIEWS, starred review
“Lyrical, piercing, and powerful.” —Lara Prescott
"Evocative and moving, Country of Origin shows the struggles of two families caught up in the tumult of recent history. Love, loss, betrayal, migration, all of these are deftly explored in this fine first novel. Dalia Azim has given us a true and powerful story of the ties that bind and the ties that break, and our endless negotiation between the two." —Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
"Dalia Azim’s luminous Country of Origin is a complex and moving portrait of a family reshaped by a young woman’s determination to change the course of her life. Tender and wise, this novel explores the steep costs of loyalty, betrayal, and revolution—and the tenacity of love. A transporting debut." —Kirstin Valdez Quade, author of The Five Wounds
“I picked this book up, not expecting the mystery, courage, and riveting adventure I would find in its pages. I put it down three days later, changed as the best books change you: stronger, and of wider, wilder vision. Among the best novels I’ve read in years.” —Deb Olin Unferth, author of Barn 8
“A novel of immense power, Country of Origin is an intergenerational epic that explores how one family’s secrets and traumas interweave with political and social upheavals in transformative ways. In any year, Dalia Azim’s gripping, lyrical debut would be an event. In this moment, it is essential. This book is a revelation.”—Mary Helen Specht, author of Migratory Animals