An essential guide for Arab-Canadians and a fascinating resource for anyone interested in the dynamics of immigration and...

MY ARAB SPRING MY CANADA

According to the authors, Canadians must seize the historical moment in order to re-examine and strengthen relationships between Arab-Canadian communities and the nation as a whole.

Ghanem (Two Boys from Aden College, 2012) and Nasrallah believe that recent events provide an ideal opportunity to engage with mainstream Canadian culture and explore “the potential convergence of values owing to the Arab Spring struggle for democracy, dignity, and development.” The authors begin by offering a brief overview of Canadian immigration policies—both past and present—as well as current demographic information about Arab-Canadians: location, age, education, employment, income and gender. After laying this groundwork, the authors then address the cultural diversity within disparate groups lumped together under the broad category of Arab-Canadians. For instance, Ghanem, who hosts a radio show in Ottawa called Dialogue with Diversity, draws upon past interviews with guests from different backgrounds in order to present their distinct experiences, challenges and triumphs. Of particular note is the chapter titled “The Hot Issue of Women and Hijab,” in which the realities of a culture clash are perhaps most evident: acceptable modes of dress, the prospect of dating outside of the community and even the practice of female genital mutilation. In the final chapter, Ghanem and Nasrallah call for greater understanding between the generations and also suggest ways for Arab-Canadians to fully participate in all aspects of society, from sports to politics, media, academia, business and the armed forces. As the authors posit in their central, overarching question: “[A]re we heading toward a new paradigm, a new phase of shedding that prejudicial state of mind that saw most Arabs as antimodernity, antidemocratic, and anti-assimilation to the mainstream Canadian value system?” Despite occasional editing issues, the book is well-organized and full of interesting factoids about Canadian immigration, both in general terms and specifically with regard to the Arab diaspora.

An essential guide for Arab-Canadians and a fascinating resource for anyone interested in the dynamics of immigration and assimilation.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478387299

Page Count: 174

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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