Plot/Idea: Ahmad, a practicing cardiologist, expresses his experience as a Pakistani immigrant who has come to the United States. His honest, free verse entries are each introduced by a time period giving the reader a reference point. Writing on a variety of topics, Ahmad has a powerful message about acceptance, isolation, and belonging.
Prose: With a poetic sensibility, Ahmad offers an honest portrayal of what it is like to be a Muslim in America during times of political uncertainty and turmoil.
Originality: This work is unique in its approach to storytelling. Anchored in contemporary times and circumstances, it offers lyricism and thoughtful exploration of culture, xenophobia, and identity.
Character/Execution: Ahmad’s writing and ideas are rich and alluring. He makes a strong statement for equality for all people.
Date Submitted: October 05, 2022
In “American Shame,” Ahmad exhorts political leaders to denounce a proposed Muslim registry in the United States. He shares the searing pain of a proud immigrant American citizen now facing increased vetting upon his return home from international travels in “Welcome Home,” and he reveals outraged grief when a pregnant woman in Pakistan is stoned to death–“To all those who want to bring us, people, down/ Let it be known/ Just back off/ Leave us alone/ For we shall finish ourselves/ On our very own.” His focus is on illuminating the lasting effects of prejudice, but he also heralds empowerment and hope amid the heavy-heartedness, imploring readers “For at the end of the day, what really matters is not what comes your way but how you respond to it.”
Between gripping revelations and thought-provoking insight, Dr. Ahmad allows readers a glimpse of his personal trauma in “My Brother,” an agonizing account of his mother’s death from cancer and his brother’s tragic end. His work as a physician threads through this collection, in his championing of those “sick yet beautiful and appreciative patients” and his wondering “why saving life is so arduous and taking it not so.” This is a contemplative offering on the juxtaposition of intolerance and peace.
Takeaway: A powerful collection of poetry and prose that reflects on religious and racial discrimination.
Great for fans of: Amanda Gorman’s Call Us What We Carry, Yung Pueblo’s Inward.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B