Three days after the terror attack on Bastille Day, Mohamed Asem was 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.
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