You Exist Too Much

October 31, 2020
You Exist Too Much

A "provocative and seductive debut" of desire and doublenessthat follows the life of a young Palestinian American woman caughtbetween cultural, religious, and sexual identities as she tries tolead an authentic life (O, The Oprah Magazine)On a hot day in Bethlehem, a 12-year-old Palestinian-Americangirl is yelled at by a group of men outside the Church of theNativity. She has exposed her legs in a biblical city, an act theydeem forbidden, and their judgement will echo on through heradolescence. When our narrator finally admits to her mother thatshe is queer, her mother's response only intensifies a sense ofshame: "You exist too much," she tells her daughter.Told in vignettes that flash between the U.S. and the MiddleEast—from New York to Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine—Zaina Arafat'sdebut novel traces her protagonist's progress from blushing teen tosought-after DJ and aspiring writer. In Brooklyn, she moves into anapartment with her first serious girlfriend and tries to contentherself with their comfortable relationship. But soon her longings,so closely hidden during her teenage years, explode out intoreckless romantic encounters and obsessions with other people. Herdesire to thwart her own destructive impulses will eventually leadher to The Ledge, an unconventional treatment center thatidentifies her affliction as "love addiction." In this strange,enclosed society she will start to consider the unnervingsimilarities between her own internal traumas and divisions andthose of the places that have formed her.Opening up the fantasies and desires of one young woman caughtbetween cultural, religious, and sexual identities, You Exist TooMuch is a captivating story charting two of our most intenselongings—for love, and a place to call home.