Saturday, September 26, 2020

From the Bookshelves: Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami

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Conditional Citizens: On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami (Sept. 2020).  The publisher's description:

What does it mean to be American? In this starkly illuminating and impassioned book, Pulitzer Prize­­–finalist Laila Lalami recounts her unlikely journey from Moroccan immigrant to U.S. citizen, using it as a starting point for her exploration of the rights, liberties, and protections that are traditionally associated with American citizenship. Tapping into history, politics, and literature, she elucidates how accidents of birth—such as national origin, race, and gender—that once determined the boundaries of Americanness still their shadows today.
 
Lalami poignantly illustrates how white supremacy survives through adaptation and legislation, with the result that a caste system is maintained that keeps the modern equivalent of white male landowners at the top of the social hierarchy. Conditional citizens, she argues, are all the people with whom America embraces with one arm and pushes away with the other.
 
Brilliantly argued and deeply personal, Conditional Citizens weaves together Lalami’s own experiences with explorations of the place of nonwhites in the broader American culture.

In an e-mail, author Sonia Nazario wrote the following about the book:
 
"My first review was of CONDITIONAL CITIZENS: On Belonging in America by Laila Lalami. The book argues that the nation's 22 million naturalized citizens are “conditional citizens”--in theory, equal to people born in the U.S., in practice they are treated as second-class citizens. Lalami, who often writes about being an outsider, faces barriers as an immigrant, woman, Arab, and Muslim.
 
I wish she would gone deeper into how she has personally been harmed by the inequality she describes. I also wish writers didn't solely write about problems, but spent time suggesting specific ways readers can act to solve these problems. I'm trying to do more of that in my writing. Read my book review HERE."
 
KJ

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/immigration/2020/09/from-the-bookshelves-conditional-citizens-on-belonging-in-america-by-laila-lalami.html

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