A Country Called Amreeka — adds real depth to the image of the Arabs

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I am working my way through an excellent dratf of “A Country Call Amreeka” and I find so much that touches on my own life as an American Arab.

Here’s some information on the book from the publishers. I urge you to read it

— Ray Hanania


What does American history look and feel like in the eyes and skin of Arab Americans? There are an estimated 3.5 million Arab Americans living in the United States today. Since 9/11, they have become the object of relentless scrutiny and suspicion, yet little is known or understood about them. For example, current statistics show that most Arab Americans (75%) are NOT Muslims, and most Muslims in America (76%) are NOT Arab.

In A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA: Arab Roots, American Stories (Free Press; October 6, 2009; $25.00), Syrian-American civil right lawyer Alia Malek weaves the stories of the Arab-American community into the story of America, using lively and moving narratives of real people who have lived history all around the country. “Infectiously readable,” says Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, “the profiles in A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA add character and texture to the history of the Arab-American community, challenging every tired stereotype and giving us new insight into what it means to be an Arab American today.”

Organized around a central timeline of events that are important from an Arab-American perspective, each chapter corresponds to one event and one Arab American, allowing readers to live that moment in history in the skin of an individual Arab American. Readers come away understanding the effect of these events not only on their vicarious guides, but also on the shaping of an entire community. From the Birmingham, Alabama church bombing in 1963 to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the book introduces an ensemble cast that represents the diversity within Arab America itself. There are Christians and Muslims; naturalized and native-born citizens; Southerners, Midwesterners, East Coasters, West Coasters, and Texans; urban, suburban, and rural residents; Lebanese, Syrians, Jordanians, Palestinians, Egyptians, and Yeminis, women and men; rich and poor; adults and children; lovers and fighters. “The purpose is not to separate them out,” says Malek, “but to fold their experience into the mosaic of American history and deepen our understanding of who we Americans are.”

A civil rights lawyer, Alia Malek has worked both in the U.S. and the Middle East. She also holds a Masters in Journalism from Columbia University. An accomplished speaker and writer on ethnicity and race in America, her work has appeared on Salon.com, in The New York Times, The Columbia Journalism Review, and has been featured on National Public Radio and MSNBC.

For more information on A COUNTRY CALLED AMREEKA, or to arrange an interview with Alia Malek, please contact me at 212-698-1252 or jill.siegel@simonandschuster.com.

Advance Praise for Alia Malek’s


(Free Press; October 6, 2009)

“Alia Malek’s impassioned and harrowing set of profiles of Arab-Americans gives vitality and resonance to a cause that is dear to my heart: fostering cross-cultural understanding and respect. Infectiously readable, the profiles in A Country Called Amreeka add character and texture to the history of the Arab-American community, challenging every tired stereotype and giving us new insight into what it means to be an Arab-American today. This book gives us the faces behind the names, and tells the story of a community that both enriches and embraces the American fabric. A Country Called Amreeka, and the Americans who inhabit it, are remarkable.”

—Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, author of A Leap of Faith: Memoir of an Unexpected Life

“If you’re not an Arab-American, then it’s really imperative for you to read this fascinating book. You couldn’t ask for a more informative, engaging, and provocative introduction to millions of our fellow citizens. From football star to soldier, from gay activist to union leader, cheerleader, minister, Democrat, Republican, Christian, Muslim – Alia Malek brings the entire spectrum of Arab America to vivid, three-dimensional life.”

—Samuel G. Freedman, author of Letters to a Young Journalist and Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry

“In a beautifully rendered work, Alia Malek succeeds in a challenging task: restoring humanity to a community too long buffeted by the vagaries of chauvinism, bias and ignorance. Her book, written with wit, compassion and insight, is at once timeless, in its telling of immigrants in America, and unique, in its exploration of the diversity of the Arab-American community. In the end, A Country Called Amreeka is a stirring story of humor, loss, love and triumph.”

—Anthony Shadid, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Night Draws Near: Iraq’s People in the Shadow of

America’s War

“Alia Malek’s A Country Called Amreeka is a unique, engaging portrayal of Arab American lives. Malek deftly combines the genres of biography, history, memoir, and commentary to produce a story of Arab Americans that is nearly impossible to put down. Malek takes the reader on multiple journeys, from the Arab World to the American heartland, all the while introducing us to lovable, quirky, diverse characters who all have in common a desire to find comfortable spaces in A Country Called Amreeka. Malek does not romanticize or vilify Arab Americans. She presents them in all their complex lifeways and worldviews. The result is a book of great imagination and unusual depth.”

—Steven Salaita, author of Anti-Arab Racism in the USA: Where it Comes From and What it Means for Politics and The Uncultured Wars: Arabs, Muslims and the Poverty of Liberal Thought


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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com