Tin House Sept. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781959030294. pap. $17.95. F
DEBUT Zeineddine’s debut collection examines the immigrant experience, the weight of memory, the myths we create, and the meaning of home, in a voice that’s forthright and refreshing. The setting is mostly Dearborn, MI, here dubbed the capital of Arab America, but the characters range widely. A young man wants to help an undocumented friend fulfill his dreams of going to Hollywood, but instead they encounter ICE. Several Lebanese American couples who routinely relax at the Ford Community Center pool are taken with a newcomer who arrives every week in a different Speedo, each bearing an emblem of Lebanon on the backside; readers will be as intrigued as the couples are to figure out who he is, but he certainly stirs up their lives. At age 99, Madame Ayda describes leaving her Druze village at 14 with the husband she’d just met and discovering a passion cut short by tragedy. She’ll never return home, but in another story, vainglorious Uncle Ramzy comes visiting from Beirut and tries to persuade nephew Amer’s parents to do just that, though his own experiences there aren’t what they seem.
VERDICT Often bittersweet, these stories consistently surprise. Good reading about community, and of special appeal for its insights into the Arab American experience.
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