Discover Free Books That You'll Love!
Receive unbeatable eBook deals in your favorite fiction or non-fiction genres. Our daily emails are packed with new and bestselling authors you will love!

 

Amazon Kindle  Kobo  Nook  Google  Audible  Apple iBooks
Book cover of A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories

A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories

by Alia Malek

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Pages: 320
Hardcover
ISBN: 9781416589723






Available to Buy

Overview of A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories

Among the surfeit of narratives about Arabs that have been published in recent years, surprisingly little has been reported on Arabs in America — an increasingly relevant issue. This book is the most powerful approach imaginable: it is the story of the last forty-plus years of American history, told through the eyes of Arab Americans. It begins in 1963, before major federal legislative changes seismically transformed the course of American immigration forever. Each chapter describes an event in U.S. history — which may already be familiar to us — and invites us to live that moment in time in the skin of one Arab American. The chapters follow a timeline from 1963 to the present, and the characters live in every corner of this country.

These are dramatic narratives, describing the very human experiences of love, friendship, family, courage, hate, and success. There are the timeless tales of an immigrant community becoming American, the nostalgia for home, the alienation from a society sometimes as intolerant as its laws are generous. A Country Called Amreeka's snapshots allow us the complexity of its characters' lives with an impassioned narrative normally found in fiction.

Read separately, the chapters are entertaining and harrowing vignettes; read together, they add a new tile to the mosaic of our history. We meet fellow Americans of all creeds and colors, among them the Alabama football player who navigates the stringent racial mores of segregated Birmingham, where a church bombing wakes a nation to the need to make America a truly more equal place; the young wife from Ramallah — now living in Baltimore — who had to abandon her beautiful home and is now asked by a well-meaning American, "How do you like living in an apartment after living in a tent?"; the Detroit toughs and the potsmoking suburban teenagers, who in different decades become politicized and serious about their heritage despite their own wills; the homosexual man afraid to be gay in the Arab world and afraid to be Arab in America; the two formidable women who wind up working for opposing campaigns in the 2000 presidential election; the Marine fighting in Iraq who meets villagers who ask him, "What are you, an Arab, doing here?" We glimpse how America sees Arabs as much as how Arabs see America. We revisit the 1973 oil embargo that initiated the American perception of all Arabs as oil-rich sheikhs; the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis that heralded the arrival of Middle Eastern Islam in the American consciousness; bombings across three decades in Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, and New York City that bring terrorism to American soil; and both wars in Iraq that have posed Arabs as the enemies of America.

In a post-9/11 world, Arabic names are everywhere in America, but our eyes glaze over them; we sometimes don't know how to pronounce them or understand whence they come. A Country Called Amreeka gives us the faces behind those names and tells the story of a community it has become essential for us to understand. We can't afford to be oblivious.

Synopsis of A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories

Among the surfeit of narratives about Arabs that have been published in recent years, surprisingly little has been reported on Arabs in America — an increasingly relevant issue. This book is the most powerful approach imaginable: it is the story of the last forty-plus years of American history, told through the eyes of Arab Americans. It begins in 1963, before major federal legislative changes seismically transformed the course of American immigration forever. Each chapter describes an event in U.S. history — which may already be familiar to us — and invites us to live that moment in time in the skin of one Arab American. The chapters follow a timeline from 1963 to the present, and the characters live in every corner of this country.

These are dramatic narratives, describing the very human experiences of love, friendship, family, courage, hate, and success. There are the timeless tales of an immigrant community becoming American, the nostalgia for home, the alienation from a society sometimes as intolerant as its laws are generous. A Country Called Amreeka's snapshots allow us the complexity of its characters' lives with an impassioned narrative normally found in fiction.

Read separately, the chapters are entertaining and harrowing vignettes; read together, they add a new tile to the mosaic of our history. We meet fellow Americans of all creeds and colors, among them the Alabama football player who navigates the stringent racial mores of segregated Birmingham, where a church bombing wakes a nation to the need to make America a truly more equal place; the young wife from Ramallah — now living in Baltimore — who had to abandon her beautiful homeand is now asked by a well-meaning American, "How do you like living in an apartment after living in a tent?"; the Detroit toughs and the potsmoking suburban teenagers, who in different decades become politicized and serious about their heritage despite their own wills; the homosexual man afraid to be gay in the Arab world and afraid to be Arab in America; the two formidable women who wind up working for opposing campaigns in the 2000 presidential election; the Marine fighting in Iraq who meets villagers who ask him, "What are you, an Arab, doing here?" We glimpse how America sees Arabs as much as how Arabs see America. We revisit the 1973 oil embargo that initiated the American perception of all Arabs as oil-rich sheikhs; the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis that heralded the arrival of Middle Eastern Islam in the American consciousness; bombings across three decades in Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, and New York City that bring terrorism to American soil; and both wars in Iraq that have posed Arabs as the enemies of America.

In a post-9/11 world, Arabic names are everywhere in America, but our eyes glaze over them; we sometimes don't know how to pronounce them or understand whence they come. A Country Called Amreeka gives us the faces behind those names and tells the story of a community it has become essential for us to understand. We can't afford to be oblivious.

Publishers Weekly

The U.S. has long lauded itself as a nation of immigrants, but some communities have had considerable difficulty weaving themselves into the American tapestry, notably, Arab-Americans. In this superb snapshot of the Americans of Arab-speaking descent, individuals with roots in Jordan, Yemen, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon share their stories and demonstrate the extent to which, even as they play football, work assembly lines and hold public office, they remain shut out of the national narrative. With a remarkable ability to capture her subjects' voices, Malek, a Syrian-American civil rights lawyer, sketches illuminating responses to her question: “What does American history look and feel like in the eyes and skin of Arab Americans?” There's the Lebanese-American, too dark for 1960s Birmingham; the Palestinian-American surrounded by anti-Arab violence during the Iranian hostage crisis; the Yemeni-American deployed to Iraq with the Marine Corps. In her effort to demonstrate the impact of foreign affairs on American soil, Malek focuses too heavily on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, giving short shrift to other important stories of upheaval, but this is an excellent book, one certain to put right some of the wrongs it catalogues. (Oct.)

About the Author, Alia Malek

ALIA MALEK is an author and civil rights lawyer. Born in Baltimore to Syrian immigrant parents, she began her legal career as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division. After practicing law in the States, Lebanon, and the West Bank, Malek, who has degrees from Johns Hopkins and Georgetown universities, earned her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. Her reportage has appeared in Salon, The Columbia Journalism Review, and The New York Times. This is her first book.

Reviews of A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories

There are no reviews yet. Perhaps you can add one!

Editorials

Publishers Weekly

The U.S. has long lauded itself as a nation of immigrants, but some communities have had considerable difficulty weaving themselves into the American tapestry, notably, Arab-Americans. In this superb snapshot of the Americans of Arab-speaking descent, individuals with roots in Jordan, Yemen, the Palestinian territories and Lebanon share their stories and demonstrate the extent to which, even as they play football, work assembly lines and hold public office, they remain shut out of the national narrative. With a remarkable ability to capture her subjects' voices, Malek, a Syrian-American civil rights lawyer, sketches illuminating responses to her question: “What does American history look and feel like in the eyes and skin of Arab Americans?” There's the Lebanese-American, too dark for 1960s Birmingham; the Palestinian-American surrounded by anti-Arab violence during the Iranian hostage crisis; the Yemeni-American deployed to Iraq with the Marine Corps. In her effort to demonstrate the impact of foreign affairs on American soil, Malek focuses too heavily on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, giving short shrift to other important stories of upheaval, but this is an excellent book, one certain to put right some of the wrongs it catalogues. (Oct.)

Kirkus Reviews

A Syrian-American civil-rights lawyer and journalist examines the uneasy relationship that many Arab-Americans maintain with their adopted country. There are about 3.5 million people of Arabic-speaking descent in America, writes Malek. However, "Arabs account for only about 25 percent of Muslims in America, and Arab-American Muslims still account for only about 24 percent of all Americans believed to be of Arab descent." The author traces personal stories across generations of people who have arrived on American shores. Malek looks specifically at families who represent some fairly typical Arab-American stories, such as the Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinian Christians who made up the first Great Migration starting in 1880. In Birmingham, Ala., these were largely unskilled laborers, like Ed Salem and his family, who found work in the mines, opened grocery stores and shops and were lumped in with other "darkies" (dagos) and similarly discriminated against. When President Johnson signed the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, a new openness allowed entrance to many refugees from the political upheaval in the Middle East, such as Jordanians, Egyptians, Iraqis and Yemenis. Many settled near Detroit, where they anglicized their names and got jobs at the Ford Motor Company. In the late '60s and '70s, they also began to grow politicized, as the country reacted to the energy crisis, PLO terrorism and the Iranian revolution. Arab-Americans, regardless of ethnicity, were stereotyped as primitive and evil, and targeted for violence, such as the bombing death of Alex Odeh in Santa Ana, Calif., in 1985. Malek provocatively explores how the Gulf wars negatively affected Arab-Americans and how9/11 singled out their communities in both a hostile and more inclusive fashion. A significant, timely contribution to the understanding of the Arab-American story. Agent: Anna Ghosh/Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency

Available to Buy

Follow Us