If youre an avid reader, you may have already caught wind of award-winning writer Laila Halaby (who was recently recognized by Barnes and Noble Bookstore chain as a Great New Author). Laila was drawn to her profession because of her love of books, issues of identity, and the story-telling traditions she grew up with in her family. This passion drove her to success for her book Once in a Promised Land as well as West of Jordan. How did this busy mother find the time to write? Laila tells us that her masterpieces came together between 4 and 6 in the morning before her children woke up. Learn more about Laila and how she followed her passion for writing to be the success she is today as we feature her in this weeks Young & Professional Profile.
Loyola Marymount University, MA in Counseling
University of California-Los Angeles, MA in Near Eastern Languages and Culture
Fulbright Scholarship, Irbid, Jordan
Washington University, St. Louis, Double BA in Italian and Arabic
Once in a Promised Land (Beacon, 2007)
Published in journals and anthologies
Palestinian folktales (unpublished)
counselor, teacher, translator, library assistant, waitress
Jordanian and American
What’s your background?
Two things ever-present in my life have been books and issues of identity. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the two intersected. I have always loved stories, reading them and writing them, and it was an easy way to process my life. The fact that my parents were from two worlds that never seemed to properly intersect made me acutely aware of my role in each, and the differences in them, which has worked its way into the characters in my stories.
I have always had day jobs, which have helped me to keep my life in perspective, kept me from dwelling on me and look outward at the many struggles that people go through in their lives.
My grandfather on my mother’s side, used to tell stories about growing up poor in Philadelphia, how much he had to struggle (his parents and siblings were born in Scotland) to make it. I think he nurtured both my love for stories and my respect for the h