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Lebanese Blonde

Joseph Geha

The story of two Lebanese immigrant cousins who concoct a scheme to import a potent strain of hashish into the United States, using the family's mortuary business as a cover


Lebanese Blonde takes place in 1975-76 at the beginning of Lebanon's sectarian civil war. Set primarily in the Toledo, Ohio, "Little Syria" community, it is the story of two immigrant cousins: Aboodeh, a self-styled entrepreneur; and Samir, his young, reluctant accomplice. Together the two concoct a scheme to import Lebanese Blonde, a potent strain of hashish, into the United States, using the family's mortuary business as a cover. When Teyib, a newly arrived war refugee, stumbles onto their plans, his clumsy efforts to gain acceptance raise suspicion. Who is this mysterious "cousin," and what dangers does his presence pose? Aboodeh and Samir's problems grow still more serious when a shipment goes awry and their links to the war-ravaged homeland are severed. Soon it's not just Aboodeh and Samir's livelihoods and futures that are imperiled, but the stability of the entire family.

Praise for Lebanese Blonde :

"Joe Geha brings to his first novel all the craft and humanity he has shown in his short stories. It is full of notes of exile, of home and away, of family and food, of wisdom and foolishness. The world seen through Arab American eyes has a new minted universality.'
—Bernard MacLaverty, author of Lamb, Cal, Grace Notes, The Anatomy School, and Matters of Life and Death

"[Joseph Geha] has a Dickens of an eye, a Chekhov of a heart. . . . This book about never forgetting is unforgettable."
—Michael Martone, author of Four for a Quarter, and Not Normal, Illinois: Peculiar Fictions from the Flyover

Praise for Joseph Geha:

"When a foreign people inhabits a new place, both people and place risk losing their identity.  Joseph Geha fights hard to keep his characters exotic, to make Toledo a land of mystery."
—the New York Times

"Witty, engaging . . . Mr. Geha's writing voice is profuse; he spins out his stories with seeming ease, filling them with precise textural details that bring the community's streets to life.  And his characters, even the minor ones, are memorable."
—the Washington Times

Jacket art: Original photo courtesy of Joseph Geha.

Joseph Geha is the author of Through and Through: Toledo Stories (Graywolf 1990), a collection of short stories inspired by his experiences growing up in an émigré Arab American community. He is a Professor Emeritus of the creative writing program at Iowa State University.

Praise / Awards

  • "The complexity of character building and plot structure ensures that what could have been an outrageous climax is believable and satisfying....This is a book for all libraries with eager fiction readers." 

  • Winner, Arab American Book Award - Fiction, 2013
  • Winner of the 2016 Khayrallah Prize

News, Reviews, Interviews

Listen: Interview with Joseph Geha | Iowa Public Radio | 2/4/13

Read: Review | Toledo Free Press | 10/26/12

Read: Review | Toledo Blade | 11/4/12 

Watch: Q&A with Joseph Geha | 1/21/13

Media Kit

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 296pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2012
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11845-8

Add to Cart
  • $24.00 U.S.

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  • fiction, Arab-American, Immigration and naturalization, drug trade, mortuary business, Middle East, Lebanese Civil War, Lebanese cuisine, Islam, Melkite Catholicism, Eastern Rite Catholicism, Toledo