Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Eleven books on loving a country that doesn’t love you back

Wajahat Ali is a Daily Beast columnist, public speaker, recovering attorney, and tired dad of three cute kids. He believes in sharing stories that are by us, for everyone: universal narratives told through a culturally specific lens to entertain, educate and bridge the global divides.

Ali's new book is Go Back To Where You Came From: And, Other Helpful Recommendations on Becoming American.

At Lit Hub he shared a reading list of
books that honestly and eloquently express the complexity of being a modern citizen and human in an absurd country where boundaries and identities often blur, and where our existence serves as a reminder, a resistance, a correction, and a hope for a country that can still achieve its noble aspirations by including and celebrating the rest of us who’ve always been here but never received the spotlight.
One title on the list:
Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

You can win a Pulitzer even if you quote Watchmen and Galactus? I remember thinking that when I first read Junot Diaz’s celebrated novel. I loved the way his characters spoke, and how he unabashedly brought forth what is considered “high” and “low” culture together in his book, doing it with intentionality to tell a larger story of how the “fuku,” the curse from the motherland can travel to Amreeka, and haunt and traumatize immigrant generations for decades. Even though the family in his story is Dominican, I found many parallels with my Pakistani families. The universal is often found in the specific.
Read about another entry on the list.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao appears among Carrie V Mullins's eleven favorite unreliable narrators, Saskia Lacey's fifty incredible literary works destined to become classics, Samantha Mabry's five books that carry curses, Susan Barker's top ten novels with multiple narratives, BBC Culture's twelve greatest novels of the 21st century, Emily Temple's fifty greatest debut novels since 1950, Niall Williams's top ten bookworms' tales, Chrissie Gruebel's nine best last lines in literature, Alexia Nader's nine favorite books about unhappy families, Jami Attenberg's top six books with overweight protagonists, Brooke Hauser's six top books about immigrants, Sara Gruen's six favorite books, Paste magazine's list of the ten best debut novels of the decade (2000-2009), and The Millions' best books of fiction of the millenium. The novel is one of Matthew Kaminski's five favorite novels about immigrants in America and is a book that made a difference to Zoë Saldana.

The Page 99 Test: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

--Marshal Zeringue