A Nigerian-born Bangladeshi writer/photographer’s memoir about growing up in Nigeria and America and the inner turmoil she faced while coming to terms with her multicultural heritage.
In 1972, just a year after Bangladesh gained independence, Hoque’s (The Lovers and the Leavers, 2015, etc.) parents immigrated to Africa to live in the small town of Nssuka. The author was born soon after and became the family’s “Nigerian baby.” While her scientist father worked at the local university, Hoque grew up immersed in Nigerian culture and even gave herself an Igbo name, Ngozi. But political instability caused the family to leave Nssuka permanently when Hoque was 13. They settled in Pittsburgh, a city where Hoque’s father had once spent a sabbatical year and where her youngest brother was born. Her transition to the U.S. was traumatic, yet within six months of arriving, no one could tell that she had not grown up “in middle America, going to summer camp, and watching bubble gum TV.” Hoque excelled in school, just as her ambitious parents—and especially her father—desired. A breakdown in the middle of her doctorate program at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business brought Hoque a greater awareness of the many personal, academic, and cultural stresses that had defined her life and her need to make sense of a fractured self. After a stint in an MFA program in San Francisco, Hoque traveled to Bangladesh, where she felt alienated despite the fact that “everyone looked like me.” Yet within this space of disconnection, she began to find healing, especially after her father’s revelation that he had once prepared for a literary career and even published a novel. Always aware of language and its limitations in fully fleshing out a life lived across cultures, Hoque charts a remarkably intercontinental journey of personal discovery while celebrating hard-won lessons of self-acceptance.
A quietly moving memoir.