I‘ve never been a huge fan of Mohsin Hamid. I loved “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” initially but was disappointed and irritated by the end, I enjoyed his essay collection “Civilization and Its Discontents” and I couldn’t get through the beginning of “How to Get Filthy Rich in Asia.” His latest book though, “Exit West” is magical. I’m almost done and hoping that the ending doesn’t let me down. Read below for one of my favourite passages from the book.
“For most immigrants, moving to a new country is an act of faith. Even if you’ve heard stories of safety, opportunity and prosperity, it’s still a leap to move yourself from your own language, people and country. Your own history. What if the stories weren’t true? What if you couldn’t adapt? What if you weren’t wanted in the new country.” (Nicola Yoon, The Sun is Also a Star, 2016, p.34)
Is there a word for reverse migration? If so, I want to know it. We moved from South Africa to Canada a little over a month ago, and leaving home to settle back home has been challenging in ways that have taken me by surprise. Not that I’m not glad to be back – it’s wonderful to take transit and walk and visit the library again, but in my time away, I got used to not being a minority all the time. I got accustomed to being asked where I was from because of my Canadian accent instead of being asked where I’m from and where I was born because I wear a headscarf. I got used to not having to think about where I was going to pray, and instead devoting that brain space to move beyond accommodation to think about the kind of Muslim I want to be. For so many reasons, the first few weeks back were very challenging, but we’re slowly making Canada home again and figuring out who we are individually and who we are as a family in what feels like a new place.
If 2017 is any indication so far, this is the year where we all need to be reading diverse stories and doing as much as possible. And towards that end, in the past few weeks I read two books about immigration that I very much want to share and discuss with you.
I am battling the flu, and a couple of days ago I sat in bed and read Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni’s AMAZING new book “Before We Visit the Goddess at one sitting. It’s an incredible book about the love that exists between mothers and daughters, the challenges of love, the vulnerability, fierceness and resilience of women, the challenges and solitude of immigration and the legacies we inherit from our mothers, grandmothers and greatgrandparents. It’s a magnificent book and one I highly highly recommend reading. Below are my #booktube reflections on the read.