ALIENATION by Asim Abraham


My Life in Saudi Arabia and America
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A coming-of-age memoir about a young man caught between two very different cultures.

Since his wealthy parents frequently moved internationally, Abraham’s childhood was split between the United States and an Arabic country that he initially loathed. Uprooted from his beloved Batman and the English-speaking world and transplanted into a traditional culture where he could not utter a word of complaint against an abusive math teacher, he ended up miserable and floundered in his studies. Writing a diary and recording meetings with his grandparents and family kept him sane. His worst moment came when a truck killed his little brother, Moses. Abraham conveys his bewilderment, shock and pain: “I saw that one of Moses’s feet had lost its shoe, so I told Ray to look for it. To this day, I don’t know why I said that.” Curiously, he chooses not to name the country he lived in and instead calls it “Arabia.” This is only one of the many frustratingly vague elisions in this choppy narrative. As a young man, curious about sex and women, he agreed to an arranged marriage, but he ended up phobic and nauseated, “vomit hovering about my throat.” He doesn’t name his wife, referring to her as “my wife” and to their son, the apple of his eye, as “my son.” Two years on, the marriage ended. The writer grew increasingly obsessed with his son, to whom he addresses this story. The latter part of the book describes a holiday the family spent in Malaysia and includes bland descriptions of visits to malls, shopping, restaurants, airports and cafes.

Warmly and honestly written but sloppily edited and of limited scope.

Pub Date: Aug. 24th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1475942606
Page count: 134pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
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