TO BE A STRANGER in your own land is alienating enough, but to be a stranger among your own people? That vexing question is at the heart of two books — one a Bildungsroman, the other a memoir — by Arab authors whose narratives might be best described as the misadventures of the insider-outsider.
In Rayyan Al-Shawaf’s coming-of-age novel When All Else Fails, his protagonist Hunayn is an immigrant college student in Orlando, Florida, facing the fallout of 9/11.
When We Were Arabs: A Jewish Family’s Forgotten History by Massoud Hayoun is a memoir and an intimate narrative of two Jewish Arab families woven together by time and circumstance as they emigrate from Morocco and Tunisia to Egypt, Palestine, France, and the United States, looking for a place to call home.
read in the Los Angeles Review of Books