The Coin: A Novel (Hardcover)

The Coin: A Novel By Yasmin Zaher Cover Image

The Coin: A Novel (Hardcover)


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July 2024 Indie Next List

“Zaher has a powerful, unique voice that embodies notions about self, becoming naturalized in a place away from home, and what it means to be a woman with desires and obligations. This made me consider what it’s like to exist in the grey spaces.”
— Viktor Hughes, Loudmouth Books, Indianapolis, IN

A bold and unabashed novel about a young Palestinian woman's unraveling as she teaches at a New York City middle school, gets caught up in a scheme reselling Birkin bags, and strives to gain control over her body and mind

The Coin’s narrator is a wealthy Palestinian woman with impeccable style and meticulous hygiene. And yet the ideal self, the ideal life, remains just out of reach: her inheritance is inaccessible, her homeland exists only in her memory, and her attempt to thrive in America seems doomed from the start.

In New York, she strives to put down roots. She teaches at a school for underprivileged boys, where her eccentric methods cross boundaries. She befriends a homeless swindler, and the two participate in an intercontinental scheme reselling Birkin bags.

But America is stifling her—her willfulness, her sexuality, her principles. In an attempt to regain control, she becomes preoccupied with purity, cleanliness, and self-image, all while drawing her students into her obsessions. In an unforgettable denouement, her childhood memories converge with her material and existential statelessness, and the narrator unravels spectacularly.

In enthralling, sensory prose, The Coin explores nature and civilization, beauty and justice, class and belonging—all while resisting easy moralizing. Provocative, wry, and inviting, The Coin marks the arrival of a major new literary voice.
Yasmin Zaher is a Palestinian journalist and writer born in 1991 in Jerusalem. The Coin is her first novel.
Product Details ISBN: 9781646222100
ISBN-10: 1646222105
Publisher: Catapult
Publication Date: July 9th, 2024
Pages: 240
Language: English
A Goodreads Editors' Pick
Elle, A Best Book of Summer
Time, A Best Book of the Summer
Vulture, A Best Book of the Summer

Named a Most Anticipated Book by The Seattle Times, Vulture, Marie Claire, Ms., Bookshop, Literary Hub, The Millions, and Electric Literature

"Birkin-bag economics meets colorism and racism and feminism and more—it’s beyond intersectionality—in Zaher’s stunning and surreal debut novel of a young Palestinian woman who lives and teaches in New York City." —Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times

"A hypnotic portrait of a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown." —Shannon Carlin, Time

"The Coin, the Palestinian journalist Zaher’s debut—which is, yes, about a woman unraveling in New York City—feels arrestingly new . . . Her narration is spiky and honest, her choices gleefully, consciously bad. The pleasure she takes in making those decisions and then recounting them is what makes The Coin both unusual and compelling. Our protagonist denies herself nothing she wants, and she denies her audience no detail. The combination renders the book tough to put down." —Lily Meyer, The Atlantic

"[An] unusual, powerful novel . . . Zaher captures the suffocating pain of isolation and loneliness in a manner that feels chillingly universal." —Connie Ogle, The Star Tribune

"With themes of embodiment, class, gender, loneliness and more, this is a striking debut. Read it, and then go back to read it again." —Karla J. Strand, Ms.

"A magnetic debut." —Lauren Puckett-Pope, Elle

"In her debut novel, Zaher draws a Venn diagram of the glamorously neurotic and the politically oppressed, then sets her protagonist spinning in that maddening little overlap." —Madeline Leung Coleman, Vulture

"Stories about women spiraling out in New York aren’t exactly hard to come by, but with The Coin, Zaher fashions a narrative in this vein that’s undeniably fresh." —Chloe Joe, Bustle

"A steady, hypnotic debut from a major talent, and the narrator’s acerbic voice makes her one of the most interesting characters of the year." —Sam Franzini, OurCulture

"[A] completely captivating debut. This is one of those books that was recommended to me by so many different people from writers to booksellers for months. Once I finally got my hands on it, it wasn’t a question of whether or not it was good. It was a question of how brilliant it was. I devoured this. It will easily be a book of the year and talked about for years to come." —Adam Vitcavage, Debutiful

"The Woman Unravelling is one of my favorite micro-genres, and The Coin is an ugly and beautiful addition . . . I’m reminded very much of My Year of Rest and Relaxation, with tones of After Leaving Mr. McKenzie and After Claude, books that detail the loneliness and narcissism of mental illness, but also the structural reasons (misogyny, for starters) why such angst is the only reasonable response." —Maris Kreizman, The Maris Review

"An essential, thrilling addition to the Women on the Verge subgenre." —Sophia Stewart, The Millions

"A very stylish novel that manages to broach class and statelessness with tact and humor, while also touching on beauty, sex, love and the nature of civilization itself, all from a Palestinian debut novelist." —Literary Hub

"The exquisite novel probes the space between the tragedy of statelessness and the neurotic glow of affluence, proving that in this overlap lies a rich and bewildering landscape of human behavior. Strange and luminous, it weaves an elegant tapestry from disparate threads, touching on class, fashion, lust, grief, and violence with wit and poise. Funny, unnerving, and decadent, The Coin is at once an intimate character study and a startling portrait of contemporary America." —Bella Moses, Foreword Reviews (starred review)

"Wondrous . . . 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." —Library Journal (starred review)

"When past and present, self-indulgence and self-loathing collide, the result is a bold and terrifying reinvention . . . Brilliant." —Booklist (starred review)

"[A] hypnotic debut . . . Zaher’s writing is deeply arresting, especially when her narrator is energized by her newfound sense of self-possession in New York, where she walks the streets wearing a 'violent' and 'sexual' perfume and carries a Birkin bag, which thrillingly transforms her into an object of desire . . . A tour de force." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"An absorbing fiction debut with a disquieting tale about race, class, morality, and artifice . . . A perilous journey, rendered in sensuous prose." —Kirkus Reviews

The Coin is a filthy, elegant book, keen on the fixations that overtake the body and upend a life.” —Raven Leilani, author of Luster

"The Coin is a brilliant, audacious, powerhouse of a novel. A story of obsession and appetite, politics and class, it is deliciously unruly. An exceptional debut by an outrageous new talent." —Katie Kitamura, author of Intimacies and A Separation

"I loved this bonkers novel. I was hooked by the voice, and mesmerized by the glamorous and sordid hijinks. I have never read such a strange and recognizable representation of post-2016 New York City, its luxury and squalor. Zaher is a writer to watch." —Elif Batuman, author of Either/Or and The Idiot

"Yasmin Zaher must have used electric ink to write this book. It is charged with such strangeness and humor; it glows with disobedience. A marvelous novel." —Ayşegül Savaş, author of White on White and Walking on the Ceiling

"The Coin is a taut, caustic wonder. Like Jean Rhys, Yasmin Zaher captures the outrageous loneliness of contemporary life, the gradual and total displacement of the human heart. This is a novel of wealth, filth, beauty, and grief told in clarion prose and with unbearable suspense. I was in its clutches from the first page." —Hilary Leichter, author of Terrace Story and Temporary

"The Coin is marvellous, absolutely mental, and full of pleasurable surprises. I read it in a flash. What an entrance." —Isabella Hammad, author of Enter Ghost and The Parisian

"The Coin does much more than meet the highest standards of literature: it sets its own standards. It combines intimate bodily observations and repetitive daily routines with delicate power plays, displays of crumbling authority, and interrogations of justice, all against the background of global violence. And should we really be surprised that it was a young Palestinian citizen of Israel who performed this miracle? Those who dismiss Palestinians as the violent Other of the Western civilization will discover that a Palestinian can see the truth of our messy world better than we ourselves. The Coin is not a wonderful beginning that promises masterpieces to come—it already is a masterpiece.” —Slavoj Žižek