Etaf Rum, co-owner of Books and Beans, Barley and Burger, and The Tipsy Tomato, published her second novel, Evil Eye, last week on September 5. Evil Eye is one the year’s most highly anticipated book releases following the success of Rum’s first novel, A Woman is No Man, published in 2019.
A Woman is No Man was an extremely popular and successful novel about “three generations of Palestinian-American women…torn between individual desire and their strict Arab culture.” It was a finalist for Best Fiction and Best Debut on Goodreads in 2019 and was a Finalist for Book of the Year from Book of the Month among many other noteworthy accolades.
Building upon the success of Rum’s first book, Evil Eye has been chosen as one of September’s selections by Book of the Month, a subscription based service known for curating quality books. It was also named one of September’s most anticipated releases by Goodreads, a popular online book rating site and one of 2023’s most anticipated books by Apple Books and Time magazine.
Rum was inspired to write Evil Eye to explore “the idea of intergenerational trauma” and “the challenges of overcoming our past.” The story focuses on Yara who begins to understand her story and her family’s story dating back to the “Nakba,” the Arabic word for catastrophe, which is used to describe the 1948 occupation of Palestine that resulted in the Palestinian diaspora.
Rum says that writing A Woman Is No Man, which she wrote while teaching English at Nash Community College, was a cathartic experience, and it came more easily than Evil Eye, which often felt like she was “trying to push the words out.” She also describes feeling added pressure since she had already written a bestseller.
Since the success of her first book, Rum says “for the first time in my life I feel like I’m living authentically, unafraid to speak my truth and go after my dreams, unafraid to challenge the status quo. I feel unstoppable and more connected to my intuition, but most importantly, I feel proud of the example I’m setting for my children. Being a mother is a great responsibility, and I hope I’ve been able to break some generational curses for them. Every word I write is seeking to make their world a better place.”
Rum hopes that Evil Eye helps readers in the Twin Counties “to learn more about themselves and the diverse world around them.”
Be sure to pick up a copy of the book and stop by The Tipsy Tomato, Barley and Burger, or Books and Beans to thank their teams who enabled Rum to dedicate so much time to writing her books. Evil Eye is available now.
Evil Eye by Etaf Rumis available now. Photo provided by Etaf Rum.