Dima Alzayat was born in Damascus, Syria, grew up in San Jose, California, and now lives in Manchester. She talks with us in this episode about the title story of her debut collection of short stories called Alligator and Other Stories.
In “Alligator,” Alzayat tackles race and the police through an intricate collection of media. Put together, they tell the story of an immigrant family in Florida whose lives are changed forever when the mother is murdered by a police officer and the father swept out of jail by a mob on the hunt for blood. Alzayat’s retelling of this series of events–part true and part fiction–gives commentary to race relations in America from times past and today.
Her timely narrative gives the world pause. How far has America come with its race relations? How far has our faith in the police been shaken? Without judgement, Alzayat makes space to consider these and other questions.
Alzayat is a notable writer of the twenty-first century. She was the winner of the 2019 Society of Authors’ ALCS Tom-Gallon Trust Award, a 2018 Northern Writers’ Award, the 2017 Bristol Short Story Prize, and the 2015 Bernice Slote Award, runner-up in the 2018 Deborah Rogers Award and the 2018 Zoetrope: All-Story Competition, and was Highly Commended in the 2013 Bridport Prize.
Her stories have appeared in Esquire, the Bristol Short Story Award Anthology, Prairie Schooner, Enizagam, and the Bridport Prize Anthology. Her story “In the Land of Kan’an” was included in artist Jenny Holzer’s projection For Aarhus and was part of Holzer’s 2017 exhibition For North Adams at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Her articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Flaunt, The Skinny, and Variety Arabia.
Alligator and Other Stories was published by Picador and Two Dollar Radio.