An Impossible Thing to Say

$19.99 USD

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In this bold debut novel in verse, an Iranian American teen meets his grandparents for the first time, crushes on a classmate, tries reinventing himself through Shakespeare, and falls in love with rap music in the aftermath of 9/11. For fans of The Poet X and A Very Large Expanse of Sea.

Omid is ready. Ready to stop being tongue-tied. Ready to step out of his best friend’s shadow. Ready to show the world what he is capable of. All he needs are the right words. Words to connect with his recently arrived grandfather and his distant Iranian heritage. Words to tell the new girl at school how much she means to him. Words to show everyone that he truly belongs in Tucson, where he was born.

Finding those words feels impossible, though—neither Shakespeare’s English nor his parents’ Farsi give Omid anything to work with—until he discovers rap, and something in those rhymes gives him hope. But as Omid explores rap music, the reverberation of fallen towers in far-off New York transforms once-familiar accents into new threats. Omid’s grandfather disappears, and it seems like everyone but Omid knows why. When words fail Omid altogether and violence takes their place, where will he go from here?

Arya Shahi’s debut novel explores the challenges faced by first-generation Americans, the experience of being Persian American after 9/11, and the role of language in defining who we are.

Arya Shahi is an Iranian-American playwright, poet, and rapper. He is the co-founder of PigPen Theatre Co., an award-winning theatre company and band. With PigPen, Arya has written, directed, and performed in original plays (including The Old Man and the Old Moon) as well as books adapted for stage (including Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux). PigPen’s album Bremen was released in 2012, followed by Whole Sun in 2015. Arya lives in Los Angeles.

 “An Impossible Thing to Say is tender, honest, and unforgettable, filled with characters that delight, verses that shine, and moments that took my breath away. Few books have ever made me feel so seen.” -Adib Khorram, award-winning author of Darius the Great Is Not Okay

“Arya Shahi just blew the door down on how we are allowed to tell our stories. Words are clearly his jam.” -Firoozeh Dumas, New York Times bestselling author of Funny in Farsi and It Ain't So Awful, Falafel

“A unique and thoughtful coming-of-age story that masterfully takes advantage of its unconventional narrative to reveal the truths that we all—no matter what our age—are often unable to say out loud.” -Booklist (starred review)

"A heartfelt and nuanced depiction of what it’s like to straddle different cultures and the critical need to understand oneself. [And] a love letter to words and their ability to not only define us, but shape who we are." -Kirkus Reviews

“[The first-person narrator’s] voice leaps off the page; Shahi employs Shakespearean dialogue and original rap to kinetic effect.” -Publishers Weekly

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