Diana Abu-Jaber

“Her grief has some sort of penumbra, like an aura, and I’m caught in it, in some hidden and corresponding sadness in myself.” So our heroine describes a grieving mother who’s burst into her Syracuse, New York crime lab. New in paperback, Diana Abu-Jaber’s Origin (Norton, $14.95) follows fingerprint specialist Lena Dawson as she investigates a series of crib deaths attributed to SIDS. The crime tale represents a sharp turn from Abu-Jaber’s Crescent, Arabian Jazz, and numerous op-eds, which deal with the Arab-American experience. But in cracking the possible murder case, Dawson must confront her own flaws and unanswered questions about personal origin. (As a child, she wasn’t told by her aloof guardians how she came from foster care, apparently discovered in the jungle after a plane crash, where she was cared for by an ape!) Abu-Jaber, a writer-in-residence at Portland State University, keeps the reader with Dawson to the very end—or, perhaps, the very beginning. University Book Store, 4326 University Way, 634-3400, www.bookstore.washington.edu. Free. 7 p.m. KATE SILVER

Mon., May 5, 7 p.m., 2008

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