Stranger in the Pen by Mohamed Asem

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Stranger in the Pen by Mohamed Asem

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July, 2016: Three days after the terror attack on Bastille Day, Mohamed Asem is detained overnight by British immigration officials without cause. In an elegantly digressive, self-interrogative style, Asem describes the boredom and uncertainty of confinement, and how this specific kind of helplessness leads, inevitably, to a self-reckoning. What series of events has led to this moment? As a teenager, he was stranded in Paris with his mother during the first Gulf War, while his father remained in Kuwait. He spent his twenties dutifully trying to follow the blueprint for manhood back home in the Middle East, only to cast it all aside after his mother's early death. Stranger in the Pen examines the burden of being disconnected from one's homeland, unpacks the emotional toll of racial profiling, and illuminates the quietly surprising ways in which grief can change one's life.

Paperback: 144 pages
Publication date: October 25, 2018
Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.75 inches

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Praise for Mohamed Asem and Stranger in the Pen:

"…a pensive reflection on identity and belonging." 
The Oregonian

“Mohamed Asem's memoir Stranger in the Pen is much more than the story of his airport detention, this important book is a treatise on identity and culture.”
Largehearted Boy

"Strikingly gorgeous ... an important and interesting read." 
The Portland Mercury, Aug 29, 2018, Fall Arts Guide

Mohamed Asem’s interview on OPB’s Think Out Loud radio program (Oct 18, 2018)

"If only there were more books like this—then maybe our politics wouldn't be as thoughtless." 
—Pauls Toutonghi, author of Evel Kneivel Days

"Asem wryly shows us the modern-day purgatory that often awaits those trying to cross borders who are cursed with a passport or a religion or a race or an ethnicity that is unwanted. His book is an intimate examination of being in-between—whether parents, countries, identities, callings—a condition that many find themselves in possession of in today's world."
—Alia Malek, author of The Home That Was Our Country: A memoir of Syria

"In spare, moving prose, Mohamed Asem takes us through a suspenseful journey of airport immigration detention while painting an endearing and sometimes sad portrait of a life between cultures. Stranger in the Pen is a meditative look at nationality, home, and how we collectively treat strangers."
—Ben Parzybok, author of Couch and Sherwood Nation