My new book, This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror, is now available. The New York Times has a brief review that will appear in Sunday’s paper. Here’s what they say:
If Moustafa Bayoumi’s “This Muslim American Life: Dispatches From the War on Terror” (New York University Press) can be sporadically preachy and sometimes hyperbolic, his essays also provide an engaging and refreshingly insightful window on the world from the perspective of an English professor of Egyptian origin at Brooklyn College.
‘To be a Muslim American today often means to exist in that slightly absurd space between exotic and dangerous and between victim and villain simply because of people’s assumptions about you,’ Professor Bayoumi writes.
He begins by recalling the 19th-century roots of Arab-Americans in Little Syria near the future site of the World Trade Center towers (this reader would have welcomed more context comparing the experience of today’s Muslim Americans with those of German immigrants during World War I or Eastern Europeans during the Red Scares).
By his estimation, Professor Bayoumi says, more terrorist attacks have been committed in the United States by right-wing extremists than by Muslims since the attacks on the World Trade Center and that at the time of his writing, at least, the National September 11 Memorial, an intended antidote to intolerance, offered pamphlets to visitors in nine languages but not in Arabic.
He also recalls half-jokingly answering a casting call in 2009 for extras of Middle Eastern extraction for a ‘Sex and the City‘ movie. The garish set in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, doubled for a nightclub in Abu Dhabi. The gig began in the morning and ended at 1 a.m.
‘It could have been worse,’ he recalls. ‘I could’ve been a Middle Eastern extra on “24.’”‘