Ward, Patricia Sarrafian 1969-
WARD, Patricia Sarrafian 1969-
Born 1969, in Beirut, Lebanon; married Tamer Alamuddin (a financial analyst). Education: Attended American University of Beirut; Sarah Lawrence College, B.A., 1991; University of Michigan, M.F.A., 1995.
Novelist. American Community School, Beruit, Lebanon, teacher, 1995-96.
Transatlantic Review Award, 1990; Avery Hopwood Awards in Short Fiction and the Novel, University of Michigan, 1995; Bread Loaf Writer's Conference scholarship, 1997; Radius of Arab-American Writers award, 2002.
The Bullet Collection, Graywolf Press (Saint Paul, MN), 2003.
Contributor of short fiction to periodicals, including Literary Review, Ms., Epoch, Hanging Loose, Web del Sol, and Ararat.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A second novel.
Patricia Sarrafian Ward was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Her American father and Lebanese-Armenian mother remained in Lebanon throughout the course of the civil war, but 1987 they were finally forced to flee as the political situation deteriorated. Coming to the United States when she was eighteen years old, Ward attended Sarah Lawrence College, where she earned her B.A. in 1991, and the University of Michigan, where she completed her M.F.A. in 1995. Ward's debut novel, The Bullet Collection, was published in 2003 by Graywolf Press.
The Bullet Collection follows its narrator, eighteen-year-old Marianne, back and forth through time and place as her family makes the transition from their home in Lebanon, to the United States. Paralleling the author's own experiences, Marianne and her family are forced to leave due to the political climate in the country. Marianne is an intelligent, sensitive teen who her parents view as mature and responsible in contrast to her older sister, Alaine. Due to their mixed heritage, the two girls look quite different: Marianne, like her American father, is blonde with blue eyes, and attracts unwanted attention due to her Western appearance while Alaine has the black hair and dark eyes of her mother.
After moving to the United States the two sisters find their lives turned upside down. Alaine puts her past behind her and strives to be successful in her new country, while Marianne longs for her home and falls into a deep depression. She becomes obsessed with images of war and at one point becomes suicidal. Both sisters ultimately have difficulty adjusting, their "psychological breakdown … seen as a sane response to a world that has gone mad," explained Dar al Hayat online contributor Susannah Tarbush, The Bullet Collection gets its title from the collection of war relics—shrapnel, bullets, and various mementoes—that Alaine collects throughout the course of Ward's novel.
"With this debut novel, Ward emerges boldly from the ranks of Arab women writers and proves to be a writer to watch," stated Faye A. Chadwell in a Library Journal appraisal of The Bullet Collection. In contrast, a Kirkus Reviews contributor found less to like in the novel, arguing that because Ward employs a disjointed, sometimes overlapping time continuum, readers are "frequently befuddled by shifting time and distance.… and unable to [sufficiently] penetrate Marianne's adolescent veils of justification to feel true compassion." On the other hand, Donna Seaman wrote in Booklist that despite the novel's focus on war, The Bullet Collection "is also lyrical and sustaining as Ward … conveys with remarkable accuracy and heart the fact that the most deliciously ordinary aspects of the life of a curious, envious, fantasy-prone young girl persist in even the most extraordinary circumstances."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 1, 2003, Donna Seaman, review of The Bullet Collection, p. 1143.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2003, review of The Bullet Collection, p. 179.
Library Journal, March 15, 2003, Faye A. Chadwell, review of The Bullet Collection, p. 118.
Publishers Weekly, April 21, 2003, review of The Bullet Collection, p. 40.
Dar al Hayat Online,http://english.daralhayat.com/ (September 18, 2003), Susannah Tarbush, review of The Bullet Collection.
Gray Wolf Press Web site,http://www.graywolfpress.org/ (October 13, 2003), "Patricia Sarrafian Ward."
Literary Review Web site,http://theliteraryreview.org/ (October 13, 2003).*