Review Blog

Aug 07 2019

Arab, Australian, Other edited by Randa Abdel-Fattah and Sara Saleh

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Picador, 2019. ISBN: 9781760785017.
(Age: Senior secondary - Adult) Highly recommended. Non-fiction. Subtitled Stories on race and identity, this book is a collection of different writings, including poems, on the experience of being of Arab heritage in Australia, in a post 9/11 world. The stories reveal the common experience of racism, schoolyard bullying, police profiling, demonisation as a refugee, and stereotyping as a terrorist or a 'Leb' or 'of Middle-Eastern appearance'.
They are also stories of struggles and adjustments within families - a son coming out as gay, a girl wanting to perform in a dance leotard, a daughter remaining a single woman, another marrying outside her culture, another speaking out, rebelling against parental expectation, engaging in online dating.
The stories reveal that the so-called Arabs are not one homogenous group of people, they may not speak Arabic, they may be migrants or descendants of migrants from 22 different nations, or they may actually have been here since 1897.
The stories also reveal a strong current of love and pride in family and community, respect for Indigenous culture, and empathy for others. Each writer is forging their identity within an intersection of cultures. The collection truly reflects 'the collective strength of their divergent voices'.
This anthology is one in which most readers would find at least one story that draws them in, evoking empathy or provoking a new perspective on the lived experience of fellow Australians.
Helen Eddy

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