The Coin

Catapult. Jul. 2024. 240p. ISBN 9781646222100. $27. F
DEBUT An unnamed young, rich, beautiful, meticulously fashionable Palestinian immigrant is the narrator of Zaher’s wondrous first novel. The protagonist teaches, with unconventional methods, at a middle school for underprivileged boys in Brooklyn, New York, all while she tries to put down roots in the United States. The narrator, who is devoted to and proud of her Hermès Birkin bag, soon befriends a well-dressed homeless man and joins with him in a scheme to buy the super-expensive and highly exclusive handbags and resell them to the kinds of people whom the Hermès store personnel would never allow to buy a Birkin directly. As the novel unfolds, luxury goods and clothing seem to take a toll on the narrator, however, and she ends up stripping down to her skin and turning her apartment into a nature preserve.
VERDICT Capitalism, materialism, love, lust, friendship, purity, the natural world, cleanliness, place, and self-image are all explored in this thunderous, lightning-speed, fast-reading tale. Zaher, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian, writes with passion and holds nothing back in her buzzy, strong debut.
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