The youngest of five, I grew up on Long Island, NY, in a house full of books. I read tons … and eavesdropped on many adult conversations. My family loved school, sports, and travel.

​In June 2015, I moved from Arlington, Virginia, to Sarasota, Florida, where I teach writing at Ringling College of Art + Design. I love being back by the sea.

People have asked, What inspired you to write The Milk of Birds? During college, I took a year off and spent seven months traveling solo in India, Nepal, and China. That long-ago adventure changed my sense of citizenship; I felt I had a stake in the world as well as in the United States.

I later married a traveler from Tunisia, and my two kids are Arab-American. I write about American and Arab history and culture with both my heart and my head.

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