In this episode we say happy 244th birthday to the ever youthful and dynamic United States of America. Ahlam and Andrea recommend two very different books that say something about growing up in the US, and then they are joined by American author Avni Doshi who shares her top tip for what to read this 4th July.
Books and authors mentioned in this episode:
Dominicana by Angie Cruz
Based on the author’s mother’s experience, this coming of age novel shares the story of Ana, who at the age of 15 is married to 32 year old Juan Ruiz and taken to America, with the weight of her family’s future on her shoulders.
Educated by Tara Westover
From the isolation and loneliness of the immigrant experience to the isolation and loneliness of being estranged from your family, this is the memoir of a young woman growing up in a Mormon survivalist family, where seeking education was seen as an act of rebellion.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Brought up as an Indian in suburban America, Gogol finds himself itching to cast off the inherited values and priorities that his parents assign him. His mother is feeling desperately isolated in this new country and unable to assimilate, and Gogol struggles with integrating the two sides of his identity, as an American and a second-generation immigrant.
About Avni Doshi:
Avni Doshi is an American novelist currently based in Dubai. She was born in New Jersey to immigrants from India. Her debut novel, Girl in White Cotton, was published in India in 2019. In 2020, it was published in the United Kingdom under the title Burnt Sugar. The novel was shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize.
Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?
Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble.
Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake?