I read How Does It Feel to Be a Problem by Moustafa Bayoumi trying to get a sense of what it is like to be an Arab American in America post 9/11. I’ve been hoping for fiction but good recommendations on that sort of book are hard to find. How Does it Feel to Be a Problem is a non-fiction book written for adults about the issues Arab Americans have dealt with since 9/11.
Bayoumi talks to seven young adults living in the United States about how their experiences. He writes with clarity and his style draws readers in. He uses memories to flesh out conversations and the book reads like fiction, the words are so smooth. No doubt there is a bit lost in accuracy but the reflection of the story is there. The trauma is there. The frustrations are there. I read the book to learn about those very frustrations, about how to find ways of being a better advocate so this was a good read for me.
I recommend it to anyone trying to get a sense of what it feels like to be an Arab American in America today. It’s an older book but the stories still hold truth, although I suspect it’s getting harder right now.